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Lessons from el-Rufai’s enrolment of child in public school

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Abubakar Al-Siddique El-Rufai enrolled as a Primary One pupil of Kaduna Capital School. Photo: TWITTER/ ELRUFAI<br />

Call it political gimmick or ploy; stakeholders have held that the decision of governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State to enrol his six-year-old son in public primary school in the state is a good omen for public education.

Although there were claims that the governor renovated the school with millions of naira in 2018 to make it one of the best in the country because of his son, this they maintained, is still good for the system.

El-Rufai had in December 2017, during an interview with Freedom Radio Hausa phone-in programme ‘Barka da War Haka’ pledged that he would revamp public schools in the state and enrol his six-year-old child in one of the schools.

Last Monday, the governor did as promised as he enrolled his son, Abubakar Al-Siddique at Kaduna Capital School, Malali, Kaduna State.

While experts in the country’s educational and political scene perceived the act as purely political and therefore declined to comment on the latest development; the few that did conclude that whatever the motive was, it is still a win-win for pupils in the state and for public education.

Most importantly, they concluded that there are three great lessons in what the governor has done.

The first is a pure demonstration of the right age for a child to be enrolled in primary one in Nigerian schools. The governor’s six-year-old son was just enrolled in primary one. But his mates in private schools are already in primary two or even three.

Hitherto, there seems to be no clear-cut regulation on the appropriate age to start primary one, as different schools operate differently in that regard.

Secondly, the governor has also proved that it is possible to revive public education and restore its quality to what it used to be in the past.

Thirdly, the move will reawaken the consciousness of teachers, as well as their dedication to duty, having known that they have the child of the governor in the school.

These lessons, they concluded must be adopted by parents, schools and other state governors to get things right with the sector.

Former vice-chancellor, University of Lagos (UNILAG), Prof. Oye Ibidapo-Obe, lauded the governor’s action, saying it is very praiseworthy and should be emulated by other leaders.

“It is a good move and other leaders should emulate that. Going forward, you will notice that the school will have some attraction in terms of fulfilling the government’s responsibility. He will ensure that the school gets all they need to provide a wholesome education. It is indeed, a very good move in the right direction. And there are great lessons in his action.”

Reacting to claims that the move was highly political, Ibidapo-Obe said, “Even if it were political. Let us even assume it is political and selfish, it is still a good move. At least his son is there, so he is going to provide care that a lot of children including the poor will benefit from. So it is still a good move.”

Also, the Registrar and Chief Executive, Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria (TRCN), Prof. Josiah Ajiboye described the move as a good development, urging public office holders to do same.

He said: “If all our public office holders will return their children to public schools, I think it is a good omen for the education system in the country because it will attract necessary attention to public education. We have said it that in other climes, public education is given premium attention and so we believe very strongly that this will gear our public political office holders to be more interested in public education and also show concerns to the welfare of the teachers

“As at today, teachers in public schools are not being properly remunerated. Some states of the federation owe teachers several months of salaries. And this is really affecting the performance of their duties. I want to state that teachers should be taken care of upfront before any other thing. If they are well remunerated, our public schools will bounce back.”

He continued: “If public officials and political office holders bring their children back to public school, it will stimulate them to do the needful in terms of teachers welfare and provision of basic learning facilities. This will, in turn, revitalise our public education. So, it is a good thing for the education system and it should be lauded by all.”

On the age of the governor’s son, Ajiboye cautioned parents against rushing their wards through primary and secondary schools.

“It is important that parents have to understand the principles of readiness in learning. If you rush your children through school, can you rush them through life? That is why children will not be able to cope when they are grown. It is important you allow your children to go to school through the normal and recommended way.

“Age readiness in education and learning is very critical as it has to do with the age of the child. Maturity is learning is paramount. Sometimes when these children get to secondary schools and university they won’t be able to cope.”

For the Executive Director, Grace Schools, Gbagada, Mrs. Tokunbo Edun, what the governor did is commendable. “If a government official, knowing how deplorable our public schools are could send his child or ward there, it is commendable. But I am thinking he is going to fund education because of this. He won’t just watch and see his child sit on a locally made chair or stone and then use blocks as a table.”

Urging other state governors to do same, she recalled, “When we are growing up, a lot of people actually went to public school unlike what we are seeing today. So, it will be good if they can revamp public education.”

A parent, Mr. Jeremiah Anazo, whose child is in a public school, wished that other states would do same, saying it will bring orderliness, particularly in the attitude of teachers and headteachers.

“Both the teachers and the headmistress will be mentally and physically alert in terms of delivering quality teaching and promptly attending classes. Since the governor’s child is there, they know that the governor, his wife or relatives could walk into the school at any time and this will keep them on their toes. Truly, if other state governors and political office holders will emulate this, public education will change for good.”


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