Stakeholders in the education sector have raised concern over the state of infrastructure in schools across the Northwest geopolitical zone, calling for a redress of the situation.
Speaking to News Agency of Nigeria Correspondents in Kaduna, Kano, Birnin Kebbi, Sokoto and Katsina states shortly after resumption of school activities this month, they acknowledged that resources were scarce, but called for concerted efforts.
They pleaded with the private sector to lend a helping hand, just as they emphasised the need to strengthen Teachers Associations to be functional and proactive.
Making his observation on the state of affairs, Mr Haruna Danjuma, President, National Teachers Association of Nigeria (NAPTAN), told NAN that over 60 per cent of public infrastructure in public schools, were dilapidated.
Danjuma, who is also the Chairman, Association in Kaduna state, said most public primary schools were not up to date in facilities.
“Most public schools do not have adequate infrastructure, with most of the pupils and students sitting on bare floor, stones or mats, due to dearth of furniture,” he said.
Similarly, Mr Idris Dahiru, State Chairman, Kaduna State School-Based Management Committee (SBMC), said that the deplorable state of infrastructure in public schools was one of the reasons for the increase in out-of-school children in the state.
Dahiru argued that some of the pupils and students stayed away from school because most of the schools were not conducive for learning.
“In fact, some of the schools have no roof or windows, and this can be very terrible during the rainy season, thereby forcing students to rather stay at home.
“I am optimistic that if the problem of school infrastructure is addressed, it will go a long way in addressing the challenge of reluctance by parents to enroll their wards in schools,” he said.
Also, Mr Tijjani Aliyu, Citizens Co-chair, Kaduna Basic Education Accountability Mechanism (KADBEAM), described the level of dilapidated infrastructure in public schools as “pathetic”.
Aliyu said that although the state government had invested a lot in school infrastructure over the years, much needed to be done.
Mr Yusuf Goje of Coalition of Associations for Leadership, Peace, Empowerment and Development in Kaduna, equally appealed to the government to address the infrastructure deficit in public schools.
“For example, Government Secondary School Angwan Boro, with student population of 2,944, has no fence, and most of the classes are dilapidated.
“This is worsened by the fact that the school does not have functional toilets and water facilities,” Goje said.
Mr Jane Obiora, Citizens Co-Chair, Open Government Partnership Technical Working Group on improving service delivery in health and education, also called for public support.
Obiora cited as an example, the case of pupils of L.E.A Ugwan Muazu, Kaduna South Local Government Area of the state, whom she said sat on bare floor due to lack of chairs and desks, stressing that learning would not take place under such conditions.
On her part, Mrs Aishatu Mohammed, Deputy Director, Female Education, Kaduna State Ministry of Education, said that the government was doing all that it could to improve infrastructure in public schools.
Mohammed said that the state government had been investing huge amount on school infrastructure, adding that schools were being renovated.
She said that the state, with support from the World Bank, would construct 159 schools and renovate 69 others under the Adolescent Girls Initiative and Empowerment (AGILE) project.
She explained that the project was designed to ensure that any girl-child, aged 10 to 20 years, was enrolled, retained, and supported to complete senior secondary school education.
In Kebbi, Prof Suleiman Khalid, Chairman, Kebbi State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB), says the state government had spent over N4.5 billion on the construction and renovation of classrooms in primary schools across the state.
Khalid said the projects, which included the rehabilitation of 540 blocks of classrooms and construction of 511 new ones, were part of measures towards ensuring the provision of conducive learning atmosphere for teachers and pupils.
The Chairman appealed to people in the state to reciprocate the gesture by giving back to the society, stressing that education is the responsibility of all.
Some teachers interviewed by NAN in Kebbi expressed satisfaction with the state of infrastructure in their schools and urged government to sustain the tempo.
Malam Bello Haruna, a teacher at Atiku Bagudu Primary School in Birnin Kebbi, said they were elated that government increased the number of classrooms in the school.
He noted that before the additional blocks of classrooms were constructed, pupils used be jam-packed as a result of dearth of classrooms.
Malam Muhammad Abdullahi, also a teacher at Bayan Kara Primary School, Birnin Kebbi, also appreciated the efforts of the state government, recalling that before now, pupils had to share desks and chairs, while others had to manage on the floor.
In Kano however, some parents appealed to the state government to address the dearth of infrastructural in public schools, saying that pupils in some schools still sat on the floor to receive lessons.
Mr Umar Abdullahi, a resident of Kurawa quaters in Kano metropolis, explained that parents were ready to support government in the process.
Another resident, Mr Munkaila Abdulkadir, told NAN that during rainy season, many schools were often forced to close for the day whenever rain was falling.
Some students of a public school in Tarauni area of Kano, who spoke to NAN, also appealed for upgrading.
“We want a new blackboard as the board we have is old and some parts have worn out.
“Our classrooms have potholes; some chairs are broken and we need more chairs and equipment in science laboratories”, said one of them, Ummi Nuhu
Another student, Sani Isa, said that the state of infrastructure in his school was worrisome.
Isa said that classrooms that were not supposed to accommodate more than 20 pupils, had 45 pupils in class.
“Most of our teachers do not have good seats to sit down. So we pray that government provides for them,” he said.
Another student, Sadiya Sani, from Wuro Bugga Primary and Secondary school in Dawakin Tofa area, said her class needed good windows.
She said the ceilings leaked whenever there was downpour, and that they were often forced to skip classes when it rained.
“Whenever its rains, we do not go to school; this means the frequency of downpour determines the completion or otherwise of our syllabus, not the way its is arranged”, she said.
On his part, Chairman of Sokoto State Universal Primary Education Board (SUBEB), Alhaji Kajiji, said the state government was embarking on the rehabilitation and construction of classrooms in schools.
He explained that he toured schools before resumption date and took note of needs of those schools, with a view to addressing the challenges.
Also, the Acting Permanent Secretary in Sokoto state Ministry for Basic and Secondary Education, Alhaji Kabiru Umar-Imam, said the rapid increase in population of pupils and students schools, vis-à-vis scarce resources, had been posing a serious threat.
NAN checks at Sultan Bello, Sultan Atiku, Sultan Attahiru, Sheikh Abubakar Gumi, Gagi, Arkilla, A A Raji Special school and other secondary schools within Sokoto metropolis, revealed that classes were grossly inadequate for students.
Students sat on the floor and windows during lessons periods, while laboratories, sport facilities and workshops were not functional.
Congestion was also noticed at Badon Rafi Model, Yakubu Mu’azu, Gagi and Arkilla Primary Schools, while similar schools in Kware, Gwadabawa and Shuni Local Government Areas, were in dilapidated condition.
Katsina state government however received a part on the back from some parents and teachers in the state for providing the basic needs of schools.
One of the parents, Malam Kabiru Muhammad, told NAN that in the past, some schools were in dilapidated condition without learning and instructional materials, but government renovated same and provided the basic needs.
According him, many parents that withdrew their wards from public schools, have started returning them as a result of the improvement.