The Periscope reporter
Schools in Adamawa State, Northeast Nigeria, are re-opened for the first term of 2019/2020 session. Teaching and learning, management and administration are in earnest at the private schools across the state. The public schools are without tools one week with the resumption, the Periscope investigation can reveal.
Adamawa state government has declared free education, suggesting that everything that is required for teaching and learning, management and administration in the public schools, will be provided by the government.
However, the ministry of education and/or the post primary schools management board are(is) yet to translate the free education dream to reality. Teaching and learning have not taken the spirit, the principals and teachers said.
“We’re without tools. Adamawa State government is yet to provide the schools with necessary materials to operate; no chalk, no registers, no scheme and record of work booklets, no exercise books for lesson plans and lesson notes, in addition to other materials necessary for the smooth running of the schools’ activities,” the principals, the Periscope interviewed, lamented.
Can Adamawa State Government run an entirely free education effectively and efficiently, without commiting parents to taking some parts of financial responsibilities?
In line with its free education policy, the Adamawa state government, through the ministry of education, has issued a circular, which spelt out the approved fees to be charged on students in public schools.
The new schedule of approved fees are N300 for sports, N40 for home economics and an informant revealed that N300 is approved as PTA levy, making the total sum of N640 per term.
Out of the N300 sports levy, N150 will be remitted to the Post Primary Schools Management Board PPSMB. The balance of N150 will be left to schools.
The N300 levy, is irrespective of wether or not a student picks interest on any sport. Though there is a female air about home economics as a subject, the N40 for its levy, is equally irrespective of gender.
No one could tell what the bosses at the PPSMB do with the N150 per student remitted to the board running into one hundred of millions of naira per term.
“PPSMB hasn’t for once organise any sport competition, neither does it supply any sports equipment to schools, nor does it maintain sporting fields nor sponsor any sport completion,” the sports teachers interviewed, revealed to the Periscope reporter.
Other than the sports and home economics, the circular has banned any levy on furniture, health, and examination among other dues. The circular also replaced rim of A4 paper with rake, which is more expensive.
Why do sports attract such importance not examination and/or health to warrant levy as much as N300 in a free education policy?
However, the students interviewed in some schools within the metropolis, revealed to the Periscope reporter that they were asked to raise the sum of N1,050 for the first term of 2019/2020 session.
Previously the approved levy per student include the following:
1. School development levy (SDL) N250 out of which N100 used to be remitted to the highest government.
2. PTA N200 out of which N60 used to be remitted to the central PTA.
3. Examination fee N50
4. Home economics N40
5. Health N50
6. Games N300
Added up the above listed, gives the total sum of N890 as the normal fees paid by day students, except for schools with ministry of education approved levy.
Out of the total amount collected by schools, N310 used to be remitted; N100 to the state government, N60 to PTA and N150 to PPSMB for games.
The balance of N580 used to be left for the schools to buy chalk, stationery, print examination questions, pay PTA staff, buy sports equipment and generally, manage the schools.
However, in some public schools within the metropolis, perhaps as approved by the ministry of education, students were charged the sum of N2,200 in the first term new session in addition to buying a rim of A4 paper, two packets of chalks, brooms Izal, hoes, cutlasses, etc and N1,000 each for the second and third terms, the Perisomescope investigation can reveal.
While some principals expressed their pessimism on the success of the entirely free education policy, some education theorists argued that with political will and collective efforts, free education could be possible.
The teachers argued that government should rather invest on capital projects, staffing and capacity development than embarking on an unrealistic free education.
“For now, what the government ought to do is to concentrate on providing those things that the poor in their number, have no capacity to carry on, like building and renovating classrooms, examination halls that the state government has not built for some decades and still counting, building and equipping libraries and laboratories, fencing of schools, building of computer/ICT laboratories, staff recruitment and capacity development.
“The new national education curriculum makes computer studies and entrepreneurial subject compulsory for all students in Nigeria. Adamawa state government has not build and/or equip a single computer lab.
“Any computer lab you see in Adamawa state secondary schools, is courtesy of UBE in junior sec schools and NCC’s Universal Service Access Fund. Most of the schools in the state have not benefitted from the interventions therefore, they have no computer facilities, though the subject is made compulsory.
“There’s also currently, no workshop for entrepreneurial subjects in our schools. You know the subject requires a kind of pragmatic teaching and learning environment to be able to realise it’s functionality associated with self-reliance.
“Fintiri led government should have concentrated on remedying these anomalies and allow the parents to pay for the day to day running of the schools,” a principal advised.
The principals feared that, at the expense of free education that never to is, public schools would be subjected to the “risk of lacking basic things like chalk, stationeries, and teaching aids among other things.
“In boarding schools, removing healthcare fees, will put the lives of the students at risk, because schools cannot take care of health emergencies with no funds,” a principal lamented.
Gurdeep deeply doubt the conscience of probity associated with free education policy in uncontrolled corrupt communities.
Guided by Gurdeep’s, a principal feared that the introduced free education policy, would be a window for milking public funds by enriching contractors as cronies.
“What will cost just N1,000 could, by supplier contractors, who may not even bother about quality, be inflated to N100, 000. The lost can shoot to billions of naira,” a principal argued.
SUMMARY OF WHAT PRINCIPALS FEARED THE FATE OF PUBLIC SCHOOLS UNDER FREE EDUCATION IN ADAMAWA
1. The previous fee charged in public schools was around N900 out of which N310 is returned to the government.
2. The current approved fees charged are N40 for Home Economics and N300 for sports, out of which N150 is to be remitted to Post Primary Schools Management Board and PTA N300.
3. Despite ban:on collection of fees for any other reason, the government did not provide anything to the schools about one week after resumption: “The schools reopened without chalk, registers, scheme of work books, lesson plans and notes books.”
4. Henceforth, question papers will not be used for students’ examinations in public schools, be it theory or objectives, will have to be written on blackboards.
5. Schools could not take care of health emergencies.
6. Schools could not participate in academic competitions such as quiz and debate competitions.
7. Assuming government procures ALL the materials needed in who would be shouldered with the responsibility of transporting the materials to the schools across the state?
However, Dauda Garba a citizen who is impressed with the Fintiri led government’s policy, criticised the principals’ fears as owing to the the shortsighted lens they used in visualising the workings of the free education.
“The early education was free. How did it succeed?
“When a government decides to embark on free education, it only takes political will to succeed.
“What the schools’ management need to do is to forward their requests to the government. It is when the government fails to meet up with their requests that they should start complaining.”
It is reported that the Adamawa state government has constituted schools’ visitation committee for the needs assessment. Workable Schools’subvention or running cost must be captured before private schools are taken decided even by spirited poor who requires greatest good to his children for whom the free education policy in public schools is meant to benefit.