By Kabiru Dalha
It is indeed very important to those children off the streets, but it is also equally important to find a lasting and conducive shelter for them.
As much as possible I wish education to be free, especially at the foundation level, but the question that keeps ringing in my head is, can it really be free in this days?
At the tail end of the previous Kano State government, the Kano State Governor, His Excellency Dr Abdullahi Umar Ganduje made a pronouncement among his campaign promises that, if reelected, his government will give a free education right from Primary school. This is despite its failure in the previous government before him, to which he was part of, and it was because of its failure that he was forced to cancelled the policy when they came on board with his former Deputy Professor Hafizu Abubakar. So when he made the pronouncement, honestly, I was wondering what really changed within the four years of his leadership that warrants the return of this policy? Or could it just be a statement to attract more voters to his side? But I was a bit relaxed knowing that the Governor have been on the throne for 4 good years and had also been a Deputy for 8 good years, so I supposed he must have been ready for what he said.
Now that the campaign promise is becoming a policy, I have much cause to be worried seeing what is on ground and what is being and about to be implemented as the free education policy. There is really so much to worry about.
I am writing this piece as that indigene of Kano State that attended public schools throughout his educational career up-to the University, and all in Kano, but also, due to the deterioration of the system none of my children is attending public school now. Not because I don’t want to, but because of the decay of the public educational system in the state, especially at the foundation level (Primary and Secondary schools). So sad.
Ordinarily, we should be happy with the coming of this policy, because if not for anything, parents will not be paying for school fees, but is that the only problem of education? I am worried.
One may wonder, what are these my worries?
I am worried because from what I am now seeing and what is so obvious, this free educational policy is being build on a very shaky and collapsible foundation that will surely not pass the test of time and may take no much time to collapse. I am saying this because the pillars that will hold the policy are not considered at all.
The government is all over that parents should not pay that little token that they normally -Not- pay, or few of them pay. Recently I learned that the government is talking of giving free uniforms and books to pupils also, as part of the free education policy. To be honest, let us not deceive ourselves that this is made to last, I am sorry with due respect to all those that are involved in this, I am personally doubting if government is really sincere ab-initio. The questions I want ask are;
- How can free education be possible with the type of dilapidated structures in our both Primary and Secondary schools?
- How can we have a free education with more than three-quarter of the schools without furniture of both students and teachers?
- How can free education be possible without teaching materials and aids in almost all the public schools?
- How possible is it to have a free education with more than half of the schools having more than 80 students per class?
- How possible is it to have a free education with more than 90% of schools not having a functional library?
- Is sewing uniforms for students necessary for a free education system, and is it sustainable by the government?
- Can government really sustain the provision of books that it started, and even the one it started now, would it go around? Or it is just a window dressing?
- Do we need Free Education or we need Quality Education?
There are many more disturbing unanswered questions, but notwithstanding, one fact remains that, it seems to me that government have really not taken an exhaustive research before it ventured into this all important policy of free and compulsory education, that will touch the lives of almost every indigene of our State, and If care is not taken, we may end up making more fatal mistake than the previous one. God forbid.
I think there is need for government to revisit and review this policy extensively and exhaustively as well, all the unanswered questions should be answered, so that at the end of the day a lasting, productive and sustainable policy will be produced, otherwise we will just cause more damages to the already damaged system. Education is so important that it should not be giving a fire brigade approach. I believe His Excellency as a PhD holder will want to leave a legacy that will be like seal of accomplishment to his stewardship.
We cannot afford to put a concrete over heads on wooden pillars, for surely it will just come heavily collapsing over us, and may kill or seriously injure us.
May almighty Allah help us to see reasons to correct, Amin ya rabbi.
A stitch in time saves nine.
Kabir Dalha Kabir
Is from Kano State