Irked by the increased prevalence of out-of-school children in northern Nigeria, the Emir of Kano, Alhaji Muhammadu Lamido Sanusi, has criticised northern governors for not doing enough to provide qualitative education to the teeming youths of the region.
Speaking at the ongoing Northern States Traditional Leaders Out-of-School Children conference in Kaduna, the Emir said, “When you are elected governor of a state, you are not elected to become a preacher. You were elected to deliver education, healthcare, nutrition and development. And if you can’t do that, you have no business being a governor.”
The conference was organised by the Federal Ministry of Education, Universal Basic Education Commission, National Commission for Mass Education and Sultan Foundation for Peace and Development, in collaboration with United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) aimed at taking a critical look at the present situation of out-of-school children in the north with a view to proffering solutions to the alarming state of education.
“If we are going to discuss education, we have to be very frank; the Emirs and Chiefs do not provide education. We have elected politicians who are not being held accountable for what they are supposed to do. And they did not want us to talk about this.
“We have a state in Northwestern Nigeria, where in 2017, only 184 children sat for the National O level examination. Only 24 of those children passed in the entire state. Where has all the money gone; that is supposed to be spent on education, If you can produce only 24 students in your state?
“And in this same state in 2018, less than 30 children registered for the common entrance examinations.
“There is no shame, there is no embarrassment. Professor Salisu Shehu said governors spend money on sending people to Umrah and it is wrong.
“In 2000, I wrote an article on a government that sent 300 scholars to hajj. We are all malikis here. Imam Malik said it is prohibited, unlawful to take money from the treasury to sponsor a poor man who has no money for hajj.
“Any one who takes one kobo to sponsor people for hajj is stealing, it is not an act of piety but we do it all the time.
“As a country, we have to face the reality that we have not given attention to education which we are supposed to. For example, take the budget of the Federal Government of Nigeria, in 2018 seven per cent budgeted to education as compared to target of 26 per cent.
“The budget for education at the federal level is N605,000 billion out of this, 435 billion is recurrent, 61 billion is capital and 109 billion for UBE.
“We all know that this is no where near enough to address the educational problems in the country. But the problem is more serious than that. In income 2018, the minister of petroleum announced that we are spending N1.4trillion annually on petroleum subsidy for which there is no budget. We are spending this amount annually to subsidize on petroleum, but we can give only 100bilion for basic education. How are we going to fix education?
“If we really want to talk about fixing education, we have to address the issue of misplaced priority by those who are responsible for delivering education.
“Two things are very important, first language. Our national education policy makes English language the only language recognized for education, this is a grievous mistake.
“If you look at the reports by UNESCO and World Bank, all this institutions have made it clear that if you start teaching children in their mother language, you reduced the rate of repetition, the rate of drop out and cost of education.
“Educational policy has to be looked at, English is a language, but you don’t need English to teach medicine, agriculture, mathematics and you don’t need it be a nurse or midwife.
“As a very first step, the federal government should open up the space and encourage the use of Arabic and indigenous language usage up to university level,” he said.