Will ordering Katsina teachers to transfer their children to public schools save its education sector?

Whereas the future of Nigeria’s educational system remains uncertain, the Katsina State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) has ordered all primary school teachers and head teachers to withdraw their children from private schools for enrolment in public schools. This is one of many recent attempts to revive the sector shortly after the controversy over the ideal cut-off mark for the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) exam.

The Chairman of the SUBEB, Lawal Buhari Daura, gave this new directive in line with an order issued recently by the Katsina state Governor, Aminu Bello Masari that government employees under his administration must patronise public schools. He was however silent as to whether or not penalties awaited defaulters.

The desire of every parent is to provide their children with the best education. While many have no choice but to patronise public schools, others including a vast majority of primary school teachers go in search of varying categories of private schools they can afford. But then, considering the appalling situation of primary schools across states like Katsina, they probably made the right decision.

Does the solution to Nigeria’s ‘dwindling’ education sector really lie in forcing teachers to transfer their children to public schools while turning a blind eye to the basic level of education nationwide?

At almost all levels of the public educational system, classrooms are overcrowded while some basic amenities like libraries and laboratories are becoming a luxury you only find in private schools. There is also the challenge of inadequate recreational facilities—something very essential to a child’s development.

Government schools cater to a vast majority of the state’s school-going children despite the limited resources available. A report by the Katsina State Committee on Education highlights various shortcomings which ought to be properly tackled before the sector can move forward. Of the 2,262 primary schools used as a baseline to carry out this study across Katsina state, 50 percent lacked toilets for both students and teachers forcing them to resort to open defecation.

Class three pupils in Kamfanin Mailafiya Primary School, Faskari LGA, Katsina State.

Inadequate classroom facilities were also recorded as about 622,390 pupils had no chairs and desks. In the Katsina town alone, 47,000 pupils sit on the bare floors to receive lessons and nearly 800 of the schools were in terrible condition, while 1,319 remain in need of certain minor repairs.

What happens after the public officers’ transfer their children to these schools? Would having their own children in their classrooms actually improve the teaching quality in public school classrooms? Furthermore does adding a few extra teachers’ children to the classroom actually do anything to improve the massive equipment and infrastructure challenges that plague many Katsina public schools?

While it makes for great politics, it is unlikely that such a directive will do anything more than deprive a few relatively privileged children of better educational opportunities. In the meantime the majority of Katsina’s children will continue to suffer in a poor educational climate.

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