If there is any sector that needs ‘rescue’ in the North-east region of Nigeria, it’s the education sector. The education sector in the North-east is comatose, requiring a declaration of a state of emergency, especially in Bauchi, Yobe and Taraba states.
Recently, the media reported that a non-governmental organisation, African Centre for Leadership Strategy Development, said the North-east accounts for nearly 60% of the 13 million out-of-school children in the country.
The issue of insurgency was cited as main cause of the problem. However besides nsecurity there is also negligence by the authorities towards the education sector.
In Yobe state, after what I witnessed, I read an investigative report by Kasim Isa Muhammad in an online news outlet, ‘The Citizen Reports’ on 16 October 2022, that a public school has over 18000 students with only 41 teachers in a town called Arikime.
The school has 126 classrooms and each class accommodates over 150 students, 98% of the students have no chairs to sit or table to write on; they all sit on the floor to receive lectures.
The school has only two boreholes and 98 latrines, resulting to open defecation in the environment. However this is not the only school in Yobe state in this deplorable situation, there are many other schools in the state with similar challenges.
In Bauch state i, the challenge of poor infrastructure and dearth of teachers is a major concern. Classes are overcrowded and thousands of pupils and students, especially in the rural areas, are still not attending school. In the places like Toro, Warji, Alkaleri, Kirfi, Danbam, Zaki, Giade and some parts of Jama’are, education is on the brink of collapse.
Recently, there were pictures of some dilapidated primary and secondary schools in Toro that went viral on social media. After the Isa Yuguda regime, the Bauchi state government neglected the education sector. This brought about a huge setback in the sector resulting in poor performance of students in examinations, and poor communication skills, among others.
In Taraba state, although the previous administration of Governor Darius Ishaku recruited over 3000 teachers to cater for the education needs still there are lapses in the education sector. These lapses include poor salary structure, lack of promotion, poor instructional materials and many more. Similarly, poor environment, high number of students per classroom, obsolete equipment as well as insufficient teachers are said to bedevil the state.
Though things are said to be a little better in Gombe and Borno states, the education sector needs urgent intervention to meet the global standard otherwise it would be back to square zero, especially in Borno state the epicentre of the Boko Haram insurgency. The lack of conducive environment and security to safeguard the lives of students and pupils are major concerns in Borno state. Also, poor remuneration and obsolete instructional materials are prevalent in Gombe and Borno states.
Nonetheless, the issue of the poor education sector has thrown the above states into a precarious situation as insecurity continues to exacerbate daily resulting in the loss of lives and properties worth billions of naira while many are in streets begging and hawking. However, the issue of the high number of out-of-school children is alarming as a result of the nonchalance of the authorities towards the sector.
Therefore, the North-east governors should do the needful by revamping the education sector for the benefit of the young generation, to restore the lost glory of their states and Nigeria as a whole. This is to bring a lasting solution to the incessant insecurity bedevilling the states. This is because “education is the best weapon to fight terrorism”, said Malala Yusafzai.
Muktar Bashir Muktar,
Department of Mass Communication,
University of Maiduguri,
Maiduguri, Borno state