By Usman Adamu Muhammad and Ishau Muhamad Yusuf
Yobe state has been one of the Northeastern states seriously affected by the Boko-Haram insurgency for more than a decade. While the state is currently in the post-insurgency recovery stage, the damage caused due to the crisis cannot be quantified nor overemphasized, and the impact is still manifesting.
One crucial sector deeply affected is education – the bedrock of national development. However, before the activities of Boko Haram insurgents, primary education was already in a ‘Sorry’ state, which could be attributed to many factors such as the inadequate number of qualified teachers, unfavorable learning conditions such as dilapidated infrastructures, lack of monitoring and supervision, and training schedules for teachers.
These, among other factors, contributed to the rise in private schools, making the public schools unattractive and remaining an option for only the sons and daughters of the poor who cannot afford private schools.
The fate of Primary Education in Nigeria is currently dilapidated due to the carefree and sloppy attitudes of the state and local government authorities in Nigeria. Research by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) on the literacy index shows that Yobe belongs at the bottom of the list where the state has just 7.68% of literate citizens. The state has one of the highest rates of out-of-school children, with about 658,770.
Going by the Nigerian constitution, Local governments are responsible for catering to and taking care of Primary Schools. However, the state governments’ overbearing nature has led local governments to become financially non-autonomous, and this resulted in insufficient attention required by the sector because of the disparity between the state government and the local government, as the local governments are closer to the people and their problems than the state government.
In 2014, Yobe State Government under the then Governor, Alhaji Dr. Ibrahim Geidam, incurred a debt of about two billion Naira to improve primary education in the state. There is clear progress in upgrading and expanding some school infrastructure in the state. While this is visible, the real impact is not yet felt regarding the pupils’ performance in the examination.
In Potiskum Local Government, the condition is overwhelming due to the overpopulation of its inhabitants and the scarcity of schools or learning environments. For example, Arikime Primary School in Potiskum Local Government has about nineteen thousand 19,000 pupils and only 36 government-employed staff. Moreover, our report finds that not everybody among the 36 staff is among the regular attendants while receiving and enjoying their monthly salaries.
Using Arikeme Primary School as a case study, it has been discovered that; the significant factors influencing setbacks in our primary educational sector are mainly lacking instructional materials, a conducive learning environment, Infrastructural materials, and frequent staff training.
The report reveals that Arikeme Primary School has 70 classrooms; therefore, each classroom accommodates 250 plus pupils. Despite the introduction of the state of emergency in education by His Excellency the Governor of Yobe State, Hon. Mai Mala Buni, the educational sector in the state, is trotting and swinging between the diameter of underdevelopment, and the capital and effort injected into the industry are fading to no avail.
In Human Resources, our investigation shows that each of the 36 staff of Arikime primary school control over 530 pupils per day, equivalent to the total number of pupils in other developed cities. One source that pleaded anonymity on training and retraining revealed that it’d been ten years since the state government trained them.
A lot still has to be carried out regarding the education sector in the state. To begin with, a standard evaluation exercise has to be carried out on the state’s teachers to assess the capabilities of the custodians of education. Stagnancy in the minds of the students can’t be gotten rid of by rotting and outdated teachers.
Also, a Conducive learning environment can almost not be achieved when over 250 pupils are taught in a single classroom. Therefore, efforts have to be made to reduce student populations in classes. The government must build new schools, facilities have to be constructed, and collapsing structures must be rejuvenated.
Instructional learning materials such as textbooks and manuals are to be utilized by teachers in the state. In addition, audio, video, audiovisual materials, and computers should become learning necessities and be incorporated into the syllabus.