By; FUNMI ADERINTO, Kaduna
Acting Governor of Kaduna State, Dr Hadiza Sabuwa Balarabe on Monday, expressed appreciation to the Federal Government and the World Bank for their unrelenting efforts in ensuring that the girl-child does not remain a societal burden, but positive change-makers.
Dr. Hadiza Balarabe stated this at the opening ceremony of the training of 2,000 teachers newly recruited for the 155 new AGILE schools with a theme, “Building an Effective New Generation Teacher” held at the 1,000-capacity auditorium, Kaduna State University.
AGILE is a World Bank-supported programme, designed by the Ministry of Education to address constraints the girl-child faces in accessing and completing basic education.
Kaduna State is piloting the programme to be implemented in seven states of Nigeria.
The AGILE project has three components: creating a safe and inclusive learning environment, empowering the girl child with critical life skills and capacity strengthening.
The acting governor expressed her pleasure at the opening ceremony of the induction training of 2,000 recruited and deployed teachers under the Adolescent Girls Initiative for Learning and Empowerment (AGILE) Project.
She explained that since this administration came on board, they have demonstrated strong political will to improve the standard of education in the state.
“Accordingly, we have consistently committed an average of 27.3 per cent of the state’s budget to education from 2016 to 2022, which is above the UNESCO benchmark of 26 per cent,” she said.
She pointed out that the increased access to quality education for young ones through the provision of massive infrastructure at all levels of education, recruiting qualified teachers, upgrading existing school facilities, and building of six new ultra-modern science schools strategically located in all the senatorial districts of the state are some of the examples.
“Imparting 21st Century skills to students requires, versatile learning methods that can only be imparted by teachers who themselves posses the required competencies.
“However, this administration is taking measures to improve teacher quality through removing teachers that are untrainable and ensuring regular training and retraining of teachers who are in service,” she explained.
She said, “the choice of the theme of this training, “Building an Effective New Generation Teachers” is commendable.
“Consequently, to measure up to international standards, we are partnering with development partners and we appreciate the complementing effort of the federal government through its Adolescent Girls Initiative for Learning and Empowerment (AGILE) Project.
According to her, “the place of girl-child education cannot be over-emphasized. Though girls constitute about half of the population of our children, this does not reflect in school enrolments as many are under represented in schools.
“In addition to lack of access of the few that enter schools, many yet do not complete their basic and post basic education,” she lamented.
The Deputy Governor pointed out that many factors are responsible for this.
“There are cultural factors that privilege the boy-child education against that of the girl-child and general factors that limit child education which further constrict the opportunities of the girl-child.
“These include limited number of schools, inadequate access to Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) facilities, poor education infrastructure, high cost of private schools, and many others.
“We must remember and always, that if we empower girls today, they will tomorrow become workers, entrepreneurs, political leaders, lawyers, medical doctors, academics and captains in many human endeavours. All the girl-child needs is opportunity and she can rise to be anything in Nigeria and beyond.
“It is precisely that opportunity that my parents gave me that is why, today I am a medical doctor. Many girls better than I was, never made it this far.
“For us as a government, our response to the constraints that confront girl-child education include a comprehensive approach to the problem of education in the state and completion rates in schools, Some of the strategies being implemented in the state include;
“The domestication of the Universal Basic Education Act as The State Universal Basic Education Board Law of Kaduna State with specific emphasis on tuition-free and compulsory basic education for every child up to senior secondary school level.
“Declaration of state of emergency in education sector and massive infrastructural development across the 4,260 primary schools and 550 secondary schools across the State.
“The expansion of educational opportunities for the vulnerable, the hard-to-reach and the disadvantaged girl-child by providing conditional cash transfer to 24,165 households within the State. 781,533 students (53% female) also benefitted from the Free Uniform Programme of the State,” she informed.
She said a school feeding programme is being implemented to increase enrolment, ensure consistent attendance at school and guarantee improved nutrition for boarding secondary schools and Islamic, Quranic and Tsangaya Education (IQTE) and primary school pupils, with about 45% of the boarding schools for girls only.
“The government also established a school for the gifted and talented in order to accord gifted and talented children the opportunity to learn at their own pace as well as payment of NECO/NABTEB fees for candidates from 2016 to date.
“The ratio of qualified teachers to pupils has been raised through the recruitment of 1,740 science teachers in secondary schools in 2016, 24,465 teachers in primary schools in 2017 and recruitment of 7,600 secondary school teachers which the trainees of today are part of. Our government has also provided 800 computer desktops, 7,000 ICT tablets and built ICT laboratories in schools.
“Twenty-five schools were equipped with computer laboratories in 2021 and we are currently working on 17 model schools. With all the resources (both human and finance) put in place, I call on parents, guardians, SBMCs, and teachers to support the girl-child to access free and compulsory quality education to bridge the gender and social divides amongst Kaduna State children.
“The state government shall continue to initiate and support any project that benefits its citizens.
“While we continue to count on the support and partnership of our development partners, Civil Society Organizations, Non-governmental Organizations, and education financiers to improve education quality service delivery, we will continue to do all in our power to improve the standard and quality of our education delivery service to our people,” she said.
Dr Hadiza Balarabe registered her appreciation to the Federal Government and the World Bank for their unrelenting effort in ensuring that the girl-child does not remain a societal burden but positive change-makers.
She also expressed her appreciation to the commissioner and staff of the ministry of education, the chairman and staff of SUBEB, the State Project Implementation Unit (SPIU) and all those who have contributed in diverse ways towards the success of the AGILE Project.
She said, “on behalf of the amiable governor of Kaduna State, Malam Nasir el-Rufai, the good people of Kaduna State and to the Glory of the Almighty Allah, I hereby, officially declare the training of the newly recruited teachers for the 155 new AGILE schools themed, “Building an Effective New Generation Teacher” opened today 24th of October 2022.”
The opening ceremony for the induction, which took place at the Kaduna State University (KASU) was attended by senior Kaduna State Government officials, the acting Vice Chancellor of KASU and heads of the state tertiary institutions, as well as representatives of development partners and Civil Society Organizations working in Kaduna State.