Free Education; El-Eufai’s Transformative Reforms in Kaduna State Educational System

By Hon. Manasseh Istifanus.

“Our purpose in government is to create equal opportunity and give every child the best prospect through decent education; to provide employment opportunities for our young people alongside instituting a vibrant economy, regulated by competent public service, to prevent pregnancy from being a death sentence for mother and child and to empower our people to be sufficiently knowledgeable and confident enough to maximize their talents. Education is an aspirational asset and tool that enables every human being to widen their horizon; develop skills and lift up themselves. Education is a leveler; it gives the children of the poor a chance to rise above the condition of their birth”

~ el-Rufai, 2018

In 2014, the APC and its Gubernatorial Candidate in Kaduna State during the campaigns approached the people with keen interest to lead the State, developed and presented to the people of the state a ‘Restoration Programme’ to inspire the people with a firm belief for a better future. The campaign came with a slogan of ‘Let’s make Kaduna Great again’. Lo and behold, the elections came and the then APC Candidate, Malam Nasir el-Rufai emerged winner, defeating the then incumbent Governor.

On assumption of office in May, 2015, Governor Nasir el-Rufai declared State of Emergency on Education in the state. According to him, the Nation is being liberated and there is the need to also free the people by making education accessible to all. Education, according to him is freedom from want; and the provision of free basic education in decent schools with skilled teachers has been the priority of Governor Nasir el-Rufai ever since assumed office.

He began the implementation of an ambitious education reform in the state and we are all aware how the reforms met with stiff resistance and in some cases, misrepresentation and mischief. Being a courageous leader that he is, the governor was not deterred by naysayers; he kept to his word by pursuing those reforms with passion. In his quest to change the face of education in the state, he had a fundamental belief of bequeathing to our children, most especially the children of the poor equality of opportunity, that once these children are given the basic tools by government, they can maximize their potentials to build a good life for themselves.

In his Restoration Programme, the development of human capital is number one of the five policy priority areas. The rationale for the choice of that policy area is obvious. Governor el-Rufai recognizes education as a fundamental component of human development, a tool that sparks the curiosity to seek solutions.

The introduction of the school feeding programme and the introduction of free basic education in 2016 by his administration led many parents to bring more children to school, resulting in enrolment in public Primary Schools nearly doubling from 1.1 million in 2015 to about 2 million by 2017. This is a feat that helped in reducing the number of out of school children and street begging.

In his quest to revitalize the education sector of the state, he began by renovating hundreds of public schools in the state. In areas of high population density, the government of Malam Nasir el-Rufai has been building high-rise schools using pre-cast concrete to enable faster construction and durability. In the last four and half years, his government has provided thousands of school uniforms to pupils, supplied instructional materials including computers and tablets and has supplied over 300,000 units of furniture to solve the problem the government inherited where at least, 50% of Primary School pupils sit on the floor due to absence of chairs and desks.

To complement the renovation/construction and provision of school furniture in a view to give quality education to the younger generation, the government sacked over 22,000 unqualified Primary School Teachers and employed over 25,000 qualified Teachers. For the Secondary Schools, more teachers were employed, most especially Science, Mathematics and English Teachers.

His consistency in the implementation of his education policy, his commitment and determination to change the face of education in the state, Governor el-Rufai in his year 2020 budget, allocated an unprecedented over N42 billion to education, a little lower than the N48 billion of the Federal Government’s year 2020 budget on education.

To prove his commitment in his quest to provide quality and accessible education to all and sundry, just this week (20th January, 2020), the state government has commenced the immediate implementation of policy of ‘Free Education’ for basic and post basic levels of education. This has made education in the state practically impossible for any parent or guardian not to key in by sending their wards to access quality and free education.

The major reason given by Governor el-Rufai for religiously implementing his education policy is because of the 2 million pupils in public primary schools who are mostly children of the poor, and who constitute the future generation of the state; to equip them with requisite skills and knowledge so that they can build a better future and become useful to themselves, their families and the society at large.

~ Hon. Manasseh Istifanus is a Special Assistant to the Governor on Media.

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