The Kaduna State Government, on Friday, began a two-day policy retreat with relevant stakeholders to strengthen the provision of quality education at basic level in the state.
Gov. Nasir El-Rufai, said at the opening of the retreat tagged: “The State of Basic Education in Kaduna State: Prospects and Challenges”, that quality primary education was key to progress in education sector.
El-Rufai, who was represented by Deputy Gov. Barnabas Bantex, said that the retreat was crucial in improving the management and delivery of quality basic education in the state.
He noted that his administration had been implementing reforms in the education sector since 2015, with appreciable success due to the myriad of problems confronting the sector, particularly at basic level.
The governor said primary schools in the state, in 2015, were not only confronted with dearth of qualified teachers, shortage of classrooms and other teaching materials, but half of the pupils were sitting on bare floors.
“To address the rot, my administration embarked on reforms to reposition the basic education sector by renovating, reconstructing and equipping public schools and recruitment of qualified teachers.
“We are increasing school enrollment and making school environment conducive for learning.
“But not much would be achieved without synergy among government agencies saddled with the responsibility of managing basic education in the state and the strong support of relevant stakeholders,’’ he said.
The Executive Secretary, Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), Dr Hamid Bobboyi, commended the state government for the continued effort toward re-positioning the sector.
Bobboyi said that such effort would reposition the sector to serve its strategic role of driving socio-economic development of the state and the country.
He described primary education as critical foundation needed for sound education in the country, adding that Nigeria and its component states must work toward ensuring functional basic education system.
“Basic education needs heavy investment, but we must all agree that it is a necessary investment to move the state and the nation forward,” he said.
Earlier, Prof. Kabiru Mato, the Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, said that the retreat was organised to look at issues around basic education and chart a way forward.
According to him, ensuring quality education at basic level will lay the needed solid foundation for sound and functional education for sustainable development of the state.
Mato said that primary school education must be given its rightful place as the foundation of learning, which if gotten wrong, would jeopardise all efforts at secondary and tertiary education levels.
“Many Nigerian graduates are not employable because they passed through a dysfunctional primary education system that weakly prepared them for tertiary education.
“It is no surprise that some graduates from our colleges of education, polytechnics and universities struggles to write their names; this is very unfortunate.
“I hope that at the end of the retreat government agencies and stakeholders will be better informed on their respective complementing roles and contribute in strengthening the provision of basic education in the state.
“I, therefore, call on the chairmen and local government education secretaries to be vigilant and pay close attention to what is happening in their various primary schools for the good of the children,” he said.
The Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology, Malam Ja’afaru Sani, noted that efforts in post primary schools would only make a difference if primary school education was given due attention.
Sani called on the state’s Universal Basic Education Board, local government chairmen, education secretaries and all relevant stakeholders to work in synergy to achieve the desired result in the basic education sector.