Kwankwaso’s strides in education as Kano governor
In a 2022 expository article, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) highlights the challenges of education in Nigeria. One in every five of the world’s out-of-school-children is in Nigeria. Even though primary education is officially free and compulsory, about 10.5 million of the country’s children aged 5-14 years are out of school.
The situation is cheerless in Northern Nigeria, with a net attendance rate of 53 percent. UNICEF lists economic barriers and socio-cultural norms and practices as principal factors that discourage attendance in formal education. To solve this issue, a few government officials have invested heavily in the educational sector. Dr. Rabiu Kwankwaso is one of them.
In 2013, during his term as governor of Kano State, Dr. Rabiu Kwankwaso, at the presentation of the 2014 appropriation bill to the Kano State House of Assembly, declared free and compulsory education at all levels in the state. The gesture was the government’s collective resolve to drive a knowledge-based economy. The declaration was an addition to the already existing gesture that saw the Kano State Government sponsor indigenes of the state to pursue their various degree programs locally and internationally.
In a reflection of his various efforts and legacies at improving the standard of education in Kano State during his term as governor, the presidential candidate of the New Nigeria People’s Party for the 2023 elections took to his Twitter page to list some of his achievements in education.
From primary education to tertiary, postgraduate and even vocational, the former governor noted that his achievements cut across diverse areas of the state’s education sector. “I have fond memories of thousands of our citizens benefiting from scholarship opportunities to advance themselves in major and specialised courses,” he added.
In the basic primary sector, Kwankwaso’s administration overhauled primary schools in the state through the construction of over 2000 classrooms and 1000 offices. In addition, he reintroduced free feeding for all the primary school pupils five times a week and provided two free sets of uniforms for all primary school pupils.
Teachers can only impact knowledge on pupils when they are in the correct position to do so. In recognition of this fact, Dr. Rabiu Kwankwaso added that his administration constructed 400 Kwankwasiyya teachers lodges in rural primary and secondary schools to aid the welfare of teachers.
In his tweet thread, he noted that these efforts were also replicated at the secondary school level. Some of these include; the establishment of 44 technical and Islamic studies schools, 26 new institutes for vocational training, approved the setup of 300 laboratories of physics, chemistry, and biology in 100 secondary schools.
After secondary education, a major issue affecting the bulk of citizens in the country is the lack of funds to pursue their tertiary education. To reduce the frequency of this incidence, Kwankwaso shared that his administration provided several scholarship opportunities to qualified indigenes. “Sponsored 450 students to further their studies locally at the Igbinedion, Bells, Crescent, and Al-Qalam universities. Sent over 2,600 students to 14 countries including the UK, UAE, Ukraine, Turkey, India, and China among others,” he wrote. His administration also sponsored over 100 persons for a medical degree overseas and 100 more persons for piloting and aeronautical engineering in Jordan.
In Nigeria, it is not uncommon for government officials to list their achievements while in office, but it is more unusual to see citizens testifying and verifying these reports. Netizens took to the comment section of Kwankwaso’s thread to corroborate his tweets and air their opinions.
“I once sat on a panel interviewing some foreign candidates for a foreign scholarship (Masters/Ph.D). 4 of the 5 core northerners that made it to the interview stage were from Kano and all of them had benefited from one Kwankwaso scholarship or the other (B.Sc or M.Sc) in the past.” quoted Sir Jarus, a serial entrepreneur and Twitter user.
Another Twitter user and a computer engineer, Usman Musa corroborated the statements of the former governor. “I was a beneficiary of the scholarship, both for my bachelor’s and master’s degree.” He added. Noting the importance of the timely intervention of the former governor in the education sector, Aliyu Isa, an assistant professor of Mathematics, said, “we were beneficiaries of your good governance. Some of us are now listed among the top scientists in the world courtesy of your scholarship programs,” he said.
On the need for efforts like these to be replicated urgently on the national scale, Dr. Kwankwaso used the opportunity to reinforce his positioning as presidential candidate, stating, “This is what we intend to scale at the national level, which will end educational backwardness. We should bring our students back to their classrooms, thereby preventing incidents like the recent blockage of airports access roads by these students.”
The standard of education in Nigeria is gradually on the decline. Currently, students of universities across the country are out of school due to the face-off between the FG and ASUU. However, timely interventions can lead to a gradual improvement in the country’s failing education sector.