Salvaging basic education in Borno from ruins of Boko Haram war By YAKUBU UBA

According to UNESCO, Boko Haram terrorists have killed about 2,300 teachers and displaced about 700,000 school-age children, as a result of violent attacks which began in 2009

For years, Boko Haram insurgents waged a violent war in Borno and other parts of Northeastern part of the country with threats to extend their rage to Abuja, the federal capital.

But Nigeria military, particularly under the immediate past president, Muhammadu Buhari, fought gallantly crushing the insurgents and reclaiming territories they occupied.

Now most part of the state is enjoying the degree of peace it didn’t enjoy a decade ago as most the Boko Haram fighters have been killed, others fled into the Sambisa forest while many more repented and were reintegrated into the society.

But the scares of the war are huge. The insurgency left in its trail massive destruction of infrastructure.

The main objective of the fighters was to stop western education so predictably education infrastructure was the worst hit during their reign of terror.

Consequently, as the state undergoes reconstruction, rehabilitation and resettlement after the 13 years crisis, one of the sectors receiving special attention under Gov. Babagana Zulum administration is the education.

Today in Borno many places that schools were destroyed have better school structures as replacement while many areas hitherto without schools now have both Western and Quranic schools in line with the policy of ensuring that every school age child in Borno is enrolled into schools.

During the first tenure of Zulum administration 24 ‘mega’ schools were constructed as the government ramped up its enrollment drive.

However, one major challenge remains—lack of qualified teachers.

The seriousness of lack of qualified teachers was exposed by a committee set up by the governor that conducted competency test on 17, 229 teachers in the 27 Local Government Areas of the state.

The committee discovered that only 5,439 representing 31.6 per cent of all the teachers are competent to teach.

Chairman of the committee, Lawan Wakilbe, said the report classified the teachers into three, namely competent: trainable and incompetent.

Under competent are 5,439 teachers, while 7,975 teachers are traininable, meaning they required training to shore up their performance with remaining 3,815 as incompetent.

“A review of their qualification shows that, 1,627 teachers constituting 9.4 per cent are degree holders, 8,153 teachers constituting 47.3 per cent are NCE holders, 2,066 teachers constituting 12 per cent are diploma holders.

“We also found out that 713 constituting 4.1 per cent are Teachers Grade II holders, 2, 281 constituting 13.2 per cent are with SSCE/GCE or equivalent qualification.

“Similarly, 2,389 constituting 13.9 per cent of the teachers are without any formal qualification,” Wakilbe said.

Zulum while receiving the report described the situation as unacceptable which required urgent action.

He said a solid foundation was needed to achieve good basic education in the state.

“We cannot move Borno forward unless we are able to sanitize our public schools system and if I can do that I would have achieved 50 per cent of what I set to achieve,” Zulum said.

Zulum echoed this position while taking oath of office for his second term in office.

In a speech entitled “My vision for the next four years” he spoke of his renewed commitment to education.

He said in addition to the 24 mega schools his administration in the past four years rehabilitated 108 schools and employed 1,000 teachers, adding that plans were on top gear to recruit 4,000 more teachers.

“Insha’Allah, we will, in the coming days and weeks, implement some policies, especially on education, because education is the foundation of growth. Without sound education, a society may not easily attain its vision.

“I am sure some people may ask why are we particular about education, and even at that, why focusing on primary and secondary schools?

“The obvious reason is because the foundation of education is the primary and secondary school.

“When a student gets it wrong at the primary and secondary level, he or she is unlikely to do well at tertiary schools. To that effect, I must say that some of our policies will be tough.

“Another obvious reason is that all disciplines whether doctor, engineer, lawyer, pharmacist, nurse; whatever profession, the foundation will be primary and secondary school.

For any policy to be effective, those tasked with the responsibility to implement it must be fully equipped to so and Zulum says is administration is conscious of that.

“A bad start will end up becoming a bad professional in whatever field. To give effect to a good start we shall provide vehicles to education secretaries and zonal inspectorate officers to strengthen on monitoring.

“Our measures will not only be punitive but also rewarding,” Zulum said in his address”, he said.

Similar focus is being paid to Sangaya education (Almajiri system) where a committee has already submitted its report which led to the establishment of a board to cater for that.

The focus on quality Western and Quranic education is indeed a welcome development for a state like Borno that experienced the insurgency occasioned by bad indoctrination.

Already the state has produced a 25-year Development Framework and 10-year Strategic Transformation Plan that needs an educated population to accomplish.

According to a Pakistani gender activist, Malala Yousafzai, who once visited Borno: “with guns you can kill terrorists, with education you can kill terrorism” as well as pave way for rapid development and a prosperous society. (NANFeatures)

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