ADDRESS BY SENATOR ISA MAINA, SECRETARY FOR EDUCATION, FCTA, AT THE 2017 EDUCATION SECRETARIAT ANNUAL MEDIA LUNCHEON ON WENESDAY, 20TH DECEMBER, 2017 IN ABUJA.
ADDRESS BY SENATOR ISA MAINA, SECRETARY FOR EDUCATION, FCTA, AT THE 2017 EDUCATION SECRETARIAT ANNUAL MEDIA LUNCHEON ON WENESDAY, 20TH DECEMBER, 2017 IN ABUJA.
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Written by Paul Musa   
Friday, 12 January 2018 11:45

GENTLEMEN OF THE PRESS

It is with a great sense of responsibility that I welcome you all to the 2017 edition of the Education Secretariat’s annual media luncheon.

In his brief to me on my assumption of office late in September, the Head of information in the Secretariat informed me that the Secretariat has had this briefing unfailingly every year for the past 11 years. This programme, I have been informed has not only become a tradition of the Secretariat but has also become one of the most anticipated events in the calendar of the FCT Press Corps.

I was also informed that the Education Secretariat has over the years been able to maintain a robust, functional and positive relationship with the media especially the FCT Press Corps. This assertion I can see is quite true judging by the impressive turnout of members of the press here today. I hope that this relationship will be sustained throughout my tenure as the Secretary for Education.

 

Let me begin by acknowledging the support and purposeful leadership provided the Hon. Minister of the FCT, Mallam Mohammad Musa Bello and the head of the bureaucratic arm of the administration, the Permanent Secretary Mr Christian C. Ohaa. Although I have spent just a few months in the administration of the FCT, I have seen enough to come to the conclusion that the style of leadership of the Hon. Minister which comprises basically of the prudent management of resources and blockage of financial and economic loopholes and leakages have ensured that the FCT remains afloat and delivering on promises made by our great party, the APC where several other states across the country have struggled to meet their basic obligations to the citizenry.

2017 was quite a challenging year not just for us in the Education Secretariat but the country as a whole. The economic recession from which we have just emerged definitely took its toll on our ability to meet some of our objectives. This is coupled with the late release of the 2017 FCT appropriation which to some extent hindered our access to funding. However, despite this challenge we were able to satisfactorily deliver on our core mandate which is the impartation of knowledge and provision of other educational services to the people of the FCT.

Therefore, the various agencies and departments of the Secretariat had to be creative and ingenious in their efforts to meet their obligations to the people of the FCT.

The late passage of the 2017 appropriation made it imperative that we had to prioritise our spending so much so that most of our pressing obligations are met and they include the following:

ESTABLISHMENT OF SCHOOLS

The continuous influx of people into the FCT has made the over-stretching of our educational facilities inevitable. Prior to my assumption as the Secretary for Education, I had always taken a keen interest in the education sector of the FCT. As a Senator that represented the FCT at the Upper Legislative Chamber, I was aware we had challenges of over-stretched facilities. I however did not appreciate the magnitude of the problem until I saw things for myself. The establishment of new senior secondary schools namely, GSS Bukpe, GSS Gosa, GSS Giri, GSS Paikon-kore and GSS Gwarimpa Estate are intended to address this critical problem. The schools have since taken off and the first intake of students resumed in September 2017.

Also established are 2 junior secondary schools, 30 primary schools and 26 ECCD (Early Childhood Care Development) centers. In all therefore a total of 37 new schools were established.

PROVISION OF PHYSICAL INFRASTRUCTURE AND PROVISION OF SCHOOL FACILITIES

The provision of physical infrastructure which include construction and rehabilitation of classrooms, hostels, dormitories, toilets, dining halls etc and the provision of school facilities such as classroom and hostel furniture, laboratory equipment, provision of boreholes and so on have always remained a priority with the Education Secretariat because they are ultimately the backbone of the school system.

In all, the Secretariat expended a total sum of N2,870,433,184.60 for the payment of completed projects which amongst others include construction and rehabilitation of over 400 primary and junior classroom blocks across the Territory, fencing of 3 secondary schools, furnishing of classrooms, offices, transit  and staff quarters at Abuja University of Technology, Abaji, provision of iron double bunk beds and mattresses for boarding schools ,provision of laptop computers to secondary schools and renovation of sick bay, staff quarters, dining hall and clinic at the special needs schools in Kuje and Jabi.

Others include the completion of the D  epartment of Mass Education at Karu, Completion of Teacher Development Centre Abaji, landscaping of Teacher Development Centre, Kwali and supply of printing machine to the ERC printing press.

Contracts worth a total sum of N3,832,795,774.00 have been awarded for jobs emanating from the Education Secretariat H/Q, departments and boards in the period under review. Completion of these contracts are expected within the next few months. They include amongst others following;

i. Supply of 300 double  bunk beds and 600 mattresses to FCT Secondary Schools in Abaji Area Council;

ii. Provision of Remedial Works on Existing 1no. block of 8 classrooms at GSS, Nyanya;

iii. Extension of Electricity to KOICA Site, Airport Road;

iv. Construction of Clinic, Provision of External Works,  Access Road and Borehole, Ground and Overhead Water tanks at Abuja University of Technology, Abaji;

v. Provision of Additional Furniture and Landscaping at the Headquarters of Department of Mass Education, Karu;

vi. Computer materials to Education Resource Centre, Wuse Zone 7;

vii. Provision of Road Network & Landscaping at GSTC Kwali, ICT equipments, Electricity, Furnishing and equipping of Science Laboratories at GGSSS, Kuje and GSSS Abaji for computer Based Exam (CBE) Centre, ITVI, Utako;

viii. Construction of Admin Block at GSTC Bwari;

ix. Supply of laptop computers for students support programme of the FCT Scholarship Board, Area 11 Garki;

x. Supply of hardware for Computerization of the Department of Quality Assurance, Jabi and Completion of Zonal Education office, Municipal, Utako;

xi. Expansion of Store at FCT College of Education, Zuba;

xii. Procurement of 1no. 30KVA Generator and Construction of Generator House to the Department of Higher Education, Asokoro;

xiii. Renovation of Women Education Centre, Sundaba, Kuje;

xiv. Completion of wood & metal workshop, old site, VTC Karshi;

xv. Development & Expansion of e-education database and Network Infrastructure at DPPR&S;

xvi. Construction of Classrooms, Library and Perimeter Fence in FCT Secondary Schools (SEB).

xvii. Renovation of Laboratory complex, Admin Blocks, Dinning & Kitchen and Classrooms in FCT Secondary Schools (SEB).

xviii. Provision of Classrooms furniture to FCT Secondary Schools (SEB)

xix. Provision of Instructional Materials to both Junior and Senior Secondary Schools (SEB & UBEB).

PAYMENT OF COUNTERPART FUNDS.

The FCT Administration has paid its counterpart funds in order to access the Universal Basic Education Commission funds. Since assumption of office, the FCT Minister has authorised the release of the sum of N2,829,104,289.77.  This includes the unpaid arrears of 2014. In order words, the FCT is up to date in its financial obligations to UBEC having paid till 2016. With this, UBEB was able to assess 100% of the pending 2014 Teachers Professional Development (TPD) fund amongst others.

UPWARD REVIEW OF SCHOOL FEEDING FUNDS

Owing to rising inflation and increasing cost of food items, the FCT Minister approved an upward review of school feeding from N200 to N300 per student per day. This has greatly improved the quantity and quality of food of students in the boarding schools.

GRADING OF SCHOOLS AND PROGRESSION OF PRINCIPALS TO GRADE LEVEL 17

Education administration is one of the most dynamic and demanding jobs within the civil service. This is especially so at the boarding schools where principals and other staff work round the clock.

For many years, the Education Secretariat had proposed that for effective management of some of its biggest schools, the school heads should have the opportunity of rising to the position of grade level 17 as is done in the Federal Ministry of Education and some states across the country.

The Hon. Minister, Mallam Mohammad Musa Bello graciously acceded to these proposals and 20 schools have been designated as Grade A schools and their principals can rise to the position of grade level 17 officers. The schools include 10 from the Secondary Education Board, 5 from the Department of Science and Technology and 5 from the Universal Basic Education Board.

Education officers are currently some of the most excited civil servants in the FCT because their career progression has been greatly elevated by this policy thanks to the Hon. Minister.

TEACHER TRAINING

The educational system of a state or country is only as good as the quality of its teachers. It is therefore essential that teachers constantly trained and re-trained so as to keep abreast with the newest trends and dynamics of the profession.

All our departments and Boards especially those that manage our schools are encouraged to not only organize in-house trainings for the teachers but also actively use the mentoring system to allow the younger teachers learn from the wealth of experience of their older colleagues.

Over the year, using the assessed UBE Teacher Professional Development Training (TPDT) funds, a total of 2,981 teachers, supervisors, Quality Assurance Officers were trained.

The Board also carried out Cluster Sensitization of 1000 primary and JS teachers and trained 50 junior secondary school teachers on entrepreneurial skills.

We place a premium on ensuring that our teachers have the required skills to function as 21st century teachers and to meet this end a total of 100 Primary and teachers were trained on the use of Classmate Computers for e-learning and 200 quality assurance Officers and conducted local training for 1,400 teachers under the Strengthening Mathematics and Science Education (SMASE) programme.

There has been a gradual but steady rise in the cumulative   performance of our students in Mathematics, especially, both in WAEC and NECO Exams from 2015 till date. This year’s performance in Mathematics is far more impressive than the previous years.

This development may not be unconnected with the fact that the FCT Administration through Education Secretariat, approved a series of training programmes of some teachers on 21st Century Instructional Techniques of teaching and learning Mathematics. To this effect, three (3) intensive capacity building training has been conducted for teachers in secondary schools. This was carried out under the Mathematics Improvement Programme (MIP).

Apart from the classroom teachers, education managers and school administrators were also trained on various aspects of their assignments in order to enhance service delivery. These are in the areas of report writing and effective monitoring and supervision. A total of 100 managers and administrators were trained.

QUALITY ASSURANCE MAINTENANCE

Quality Assurance is perhaps the most important arm of the education management chain. Although the Department of Quality Assurance is saddled with the task of ensuring that the highest standards are adhered to and maintained by public and private schools within the FCT, each of our boards and departments that manage schools and train teachers have in-house quality assurance mechanisms to ensure that standards are not compromised. This is done through the constant monitoring of school activities including resumption and mid –term school assessments. The DQA’s key functions are inspection, adherence to the dictates of management of schools and accreditation of public and private schools in the FCT.

In the period under review, the DQA followed up with visits to the 556 illegal and substandard private schools shut down last year to ensure that they comply with the order not to re-open until the minimum standards are met. While majority of these schools have remained shut, some have indeed approached the DQA requesting for site visits to ensure their re-opening after corrective measures had been made.

In the period under review, site inspections were conducted on 145 Private Schools ascertain their suitability for registration which is the first step in the process accreditation. A total of 104 Schools were inspected for commencement of academic activities for approval to operate while 114 private and public schools were screened in readiness for 2017 accreditation exercise. A total sum of ₦34,050,000 was accrued from the screening exercise.

The Secretariat has always maintained a cordial working relationship with the National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools (NAPPS) Abuja Chapter and held series of meetings to agree on modalities of best school operational practices in FCT. This relationship has also assisted us in keeping close tabs on all private schools their cooperation has been invaluable in helping us properly monitor the activities of the illegal and substandard ones.

The DQA conducted sensitization workshops for private schools proprietors in Municipal Area Council on provision of quality education and also created a data base for private schools in the FCT for accurate and easy access to information of all accredited and registered Schools.

EDUCATIONAL ASSISTANCE

The FCT Administration believes that education is an indelible right of every child. Providing access to education is therefore a critical aspect of its mandate. We are however not unaware that there are children in the society who for some inexplicable reasons such as lack of resources cannot go to school. The FCT Education assistance scheme managed by the FCT Scholarship Board is designed to ensure that no child falls through the gaps and misses out on accessing good quality education. Assistance is offered to learners at all levels from basic, post basic to tertiary institutions.

The economic downturn has also negatively impacted on the scholarship of the FCT. The Secretariat is working hard to get other sources of funding and is calling on corporate organisation that are looking to raise their Corporate Social Responsibility portfolios to look in the direction of education especially in the scholarship of indigent children. The FCT scholarship Board has an excellent mechanism for verification and disbursement of genuine and eligible candidates.

Despite the lean resources of the FCT, the Hon. Minister graciously approved the disbursement of the sum of N96,408,700.00 to clear the backlog of 5,450 students that applied for scholarship for the 2015 award season. However for purposes of accountability, the Audit Department of the FCT will work with the Scholarship Board to carry out a pre-disbursement audit of the applicants.

Eligible students have since then been expressing their gratitude to the FCT Minister.

ABUJA UNIVERSITY OF TECHNOLOGY ABAJI (AUTA)

One of the briefs I received on assumption of office was on the proposed Abuja University of Technology, Abaji. The FCT Minister, Mallam Mohammad Musa Bello is very passionate about this project and is committed to seeing it begin academic activities by next academic session.

I am also committed to ensuring that this target is met. I must however express my displeasure as how such an important project has been allowed to go unrealised for so long. One of the first things I did on assumption of office was to pay a visit to the site of the proposed university in Abaji and I must confess that I was not at all happy with what I met on ground. I saw completed classroom blocks, hostels, laboratories and office furnished complexes falling into disrepair because they were not put to use more than 5 years after completion.

While I was astonished at this lack of commitment to such a worthwhile venture, it has simply enhanced our motivation and even made the current FCT Administration more determined to see to the completion and eventual take-off of the university.

All the necessary modalities are being put in place to ensure that we meet the proposed date for the eventual commencement of academic activities.

RESEARCH, SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY EDUCATION.

There is no doubt that science and technology is one of the pivotal pillars on which the development of Nigeria stands. The advent of the ICT and the use of mobile technologies have ensured that almost every Nigerian especially the young ones are connected to the rest of the world and they indeed are making positive use of what they are learning from these devices. The economic recession has forced many Nigerians to look inwards and device means of making use of home grown materials to meet their daily needs. These are in terms of agriculture, biotechnology and even ICT. The Education Secretariat has seized the opportunity to embark on extensive agricultural research and entrepreneurial programmes and the Department of Science and Technology Complex in Utako has become a training center which has become quite popular amongst local entrepreneurs, budding inventors, local fabricators and farmers who often use it as a training center.

I have always held the view that one of the surest ways of arresting the unemployment challenge in Nigeria is to provide the young Nigerians with the skills that will enable them to become self- employed.

That was why the proposed International Vocational institute in Utako was one of the first places I visited on assumption in office. I was quite unhappy with the fact that such an institute that had so much potentials is not functional yet. We intend to change all that and I plan in the coming months to lay the groundwork for the eventual take –off of the institute.

We have always placed  research into agricultural enhancement on the front burner and in the period under review we were able to construct a 7.57m x4.42m x1.5m, 3 chambered fish pond and stocking of 1,030 fingerlings as well as 100 poultry birds for research purposes.

In the area of crop production, apart from building the capacity of staff in advanced plant multiplication techniques we were also able to successfully multiply seeds by Macro-propagation and Micro-propagation (Tissue Culture) techniques of food crops such as yam, banana and plantain. As our contribution to enhance closed ranch grazing of cattle we have concluded research on the mass production of three (3) varieties of Alfalfa plant (Medicago sativa)

The Secretariat has also over the years prioritised technology acquisition and promotion and has collaborated with various research institutes across the country. In the period under review, there was the establishment of the Technology Demonstration and Promotion Centre in collaboration with the RMRDC to serve as a center to showcase indigenous fabricated machines. So far, 23 entrepreneurs have been trained on the use and maintenance of such locally fabricated machines and equipment.

There was also the inauguration of Leather Value Chain (skill acquisition programme in collaboration with Nigeria Institute for Leather Science and Technology (NILEST).

Three (3) incubates using our facilities have undergone an induction and will be trained for six (6) months on the best practices for business management after which they can apply for a grant ranging from 10,000-35,000 dollars. It is being organized by the Federal Ministry of Trade, Industry and Investment and under the agro-allied Unit, we have been able to empower some incubates with technical knowledge on Ginger farming, Grains processing, Horticulture and Bee keeping amongst others.

The FCT Science and Technology (FASTECH) Fair is one of the best fairs of its kind organised anywhere in the country. It has always attracted the best science and research institutes and entrepreneurial institutes in the country. This is in addition to local and international inventors and fabricators. The last edition was held in 2013. The Hon. Minister has graciously granted approval for the revival of the event and we plan to hold it in 2018.

PRIZES, AWARDS AND COMMENDATIONS

FCT schools and students in 2017 did quite well in many coveted academic competitions both within and outside the country. Once more, the FCT Minister and Permanent Secretary must be commended for their commitment to education. Without their support, we might not have measured this level of success.

Here are some of the many trophies won in 2017:

GSSS Pyakasa took 2nd position at the Nigerian Institute of Physics quiz competition held in Minna in November 2017 and 2nd position at the Young Nigerian Presidential Award (YONSPA) in March. FCT won a total of 10 trophies, 14 medals, cash award and science kits at the 2017 National JETS competition held in the month of March, 2017 in Lagos State, while GSTC Garki also came 2nd at the National Inter-school Space Competition held at NASPRA, Abuja, with a cash prize of N300,000.00. At the 10th Anniversary of African University of Science & Technology Abuja, GSSS Pyakassa came 1st on Quiz competition with the cash award of N100,000.00. and 3rd position on Project exhibition.

In the 2017 STAN National Competition held in Port-Harcourt, Rivers State from 14th to 19th August, 2017, FCT emerged overall best in the primary school category.Science Primary School Kuje emerged best with a project titled; “ Blast funnel for the production of Eco-friendly interlocks using Poly-ethene bags while  JSS Orozo emerged overall best in Free Choice Projects titled;” Extraction of oil from Moringa seeds for the treatment of  various ailment in the Human Body.

The FCT came 2nd and 3rd in the national Finals of the SAGE World Cup. We are not happy with this considering that we had won the competition almost every year since 2007 in Ukraine, 2008 in Abuja, 2009 in Brazil, 2011 in Buffalo USA, 2012 in San Francisco, 2013 in Abuja and 2016 in the Philippines. We intend to stage a come-back next year.

COLLABORATION /COOPERATION WITH DEVELOPMENT PARTNERS

Education Secretariat has over the years maintained an open door policy for local and international partners willing   to work with us in improving the standard of education in the FCT. Collaboration with international agencies such as UNICEF, UNESCO, JICA and KOICA has not only been consistent but has improved.

A very significant achievement is the robust collaboration with the Korean International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) for the establishment of a Nigeria/Korea model school in Piwoyi, worth 15 million Dollars. Teachers for this school have been selected through a rigorous process and some have even gone off to Korea for further training. This school which is very nearly completed and is due to be handed over to the FCTA in February 2018 has the potential of being one of the best schools in the country. It is a very major educational scoop for the FCT as it is coveted by many states across the country. The FCTA has even set up an inter –agency committee to ensure that the school is properly maintained when it commences academic work in September of 2018

I must at this point once more pay tribute to the Hon. Minister of the FCT for his doggedness in ensuring that this project commenced in earnest in 2016 by meeting the obligations of the FCTA as contained in the signed MOU with KOICA.

UNESCO and Proctar & Gamble (P&G), trained 5,000 low performing girl-child in Public junior secondary schools in order to improve their performances and 25,000 women were made literate in non-formal education. UNICEF and the UBE Commission, conducted a 5-day FCT Level training of 96 Pre-Primary School teachers and Quality Assurance officers on the 1-year pre-primary curriculum and Reggio Emilia approach to ECCDE in Abaji, kuje and kwali Area Councils of the FCT.  These were done in collaboration with FCT UBEB.

With the support of UNICEF, FCT conducted training for 811 Head Teachers /principals and data desk officers on Record Keeping and Completion of Annual School Census form. This greatly enhances the quality of education data coming from FCT EMIS

With the support of UNESCO and Proctar and Gamble, a total of 150 laptops and 500 primers amongst other learning materials were donated for the Literacy Through ICT project of the Department of Mass Education.

The Japanese Embassy and the Tabitha Kumi Foundation provided a vocational center for the training of girls and women in Mpape, Bwari Area Council.

POLICY, PLANNING AND DATA MANAGEMENT

There is the saying that the individual or organisation that fails to plan is certainly planning to fail. At the Education Secretariat, we have placed a lot of emphasis on proper planning as a prerequisite to meeting our set goals and objectives. This is because all the component sectors of the education sector needs to work seamlessly. An error for instance at the primary school level may not become apparent until a decade later. It is essential therefore the relevant data essential for proper planning is relevant and reliable.

In the period under review, the Secretariat conducted its 2016/2017 Annual School Census (ASC) and carried out a mop up exercise of school data that were not turned in during the census. Data entry for ASC conducted for 2015/2016 is almost completed.

The Secretariat is poised to speed up data collection and management process through installation of a new server that gives right to all departments, boards and schools under the Education Secretariat to input their data directly to the served.

The Secretariat web portal (www.fctedusec.gov.ng) has been upgraded and made to be more robust, with the EMIS portal hosted on it. This has enhanced easy access to education information by all stakeholders.

GENDER/GIRL - CHILD EDUCATION

A well known adage says that when you educate a man, you educate an individual but when you educate a woman, you educate a nation. The multiplyer effect of educating the female child has been well documented and no nation that is desirous of development can afford to neglect the education of the girl child.

Here in the FCT, we pay a lot attention on granting educational access to the girl child. While we can say that the results have been encouraging as the enrolment figures of the girl child has gone up, there is no doubt that the female child still faces a lot of challenges in an attempt to acquiring formal education.

The Secretariat through the relevant Unit in charge of gender has documented some of the challenges facing the girl-child’s education in the FCT. These include incidences of maltreatment of and sexual harassment of house-helps, child pregnancy and such. I must sound a note of warning here that cases of sexual harassment and physical injury to any child is a criminal offence for which the Secretariat is prepared to bring the perpetrators of such heinous crimes to justice.

It is disheartening to us when we notice that promising girls are denied proper education by their so-called guardians who bring these girls from the villages with promises to educate them.

We are working closely with NGOs such as Action Aid, SOAR (Sexual Offences Awareness and Victims Rehabilitation Initiative) and FIDA (Federation of International Female Lawyers) to train counsellors on child protection against abuses such as rape, child marriage, sex trafficking amongst others.

On child trafficking we are also collaborating closely with NAPTIP and school administrators and principals are often educated on the relevant gender policies such as the Child Rights Act, National Gender Policy in Basic Education, the FCT Child Protection Policy and violence Against Persons Act.

We intend to strengthen the Gender Unit of the Secretariat to make it more effective and I call on religious, community and even political leaders to join in this fight against crimes on the girl child.

ADULT AND NON-FORMAL EDUCATION

Basic education is an essential prerequisite to navigate the 21st century with as little stress as possible. Simple everyday tasks such as using the ATM machine or even making a phone call requires some form of education.

This perhaps explains the rise in the enrolment for adult and non-formal education in the various centers of the Mass Education Department across the FCT. In the period under review, a total of 13,965 learners were enrolled across the 6 Area Councils and recruited 500 competent part-time teachers to augment the efforts of the full time facilitators.

In collaboration with the Industrial Training Fund (ITF), a total of 323 learners were trained in ICT/web design, catering, hotel management, domestic electrical installation, dress making and fashion design across the six Area Councils.

The Secretariat was also able to attract support from NMEC/UBEC for the provision of a block of 3 classrooms and equipment for the Karshi vocational training center.

At the Bank of Industry sponsored National Vocational Skills Competition, learners from the FCT came 1st and 2nd while 400 new learners enrolled in the literacy by radio programme of the DME.

CHALLENGES

I had always known that the challenges confronting education in Nigeria were enormous and I was therefore under no illusions that the situation in the FCT would be any different. But after 2 months as the chief education administrator, I fully appreciated the enormity of the problems which can be categorized broadly into the following areas;

Influx of people into the FCT. Although as a Senator that represented the I knew first hand the challenge that uncontrolled influx can bring to bear on public utilities and facilities, this problem I can see is more pronounced in the education sector where the government is obliged to provide educational services to all citizens.

In basic education for instance there were increases in the enrolment figures as follows;

ECCDE pupils enrolment increased by  2,984 from 27,036 to 30,020, representing 11.04%; Primary School pupils enrolment increased by 4,172 from 214,929 to219,101, representing 1.94% and JSS students enrolment increased by 11,479 from 116,585 to 128,064, representing 9.85%.

Encroachment into school plots by private developers. This has adversely affected the establishment of schools and further development of existing schools in some communities. I had the displeasure of visiting one such school in Jibi where a legal controversy over a school plot forced the GSS Dei-Dei to squat in the premises of GSS Jibi. Of course the situation was deplorable and we are making all efforts necessary to move that school to its proper location.

We are however working closely with the relevant departments to look closely at this problem and find ways of solving the present challenges and prevent further ones.

The issue of funding of course not new and this has sometimes negatively impacted our ability to deliver on the best quality service. We are however seeking for alternative sources of funding.

Difficult terrain of some rural communities in the FCT has hindered accessibility to those areas.

Some of our agencies still need to have their enabling laws passed by the National Assembly to enable it properly fulfil their mandate.

LOOKING FORWARD

Although 2017 was challenging for the education sector as indeed it was for most of the sectors in the nation’s polity, we believe that we have faired well. For instance despite the challenges of funding, infrastructure and even personnel, we performed relatively well in our terminal examinations, getting a 62% pass at the 2017 NECO examinations. This is an improvement over 2016 which stood at 52%. While we know we have the potentials to do even better, a lot will depend on how well we overcome the challenges we are currently facing.

It is no secret that government funding of education alone is no longer feasible. Raising funds by charging tuition is also not an option because we are trying very hard to reduce the population of out-of-school children in Nigeria. The immediate solution lies with the private sector. We are considering an innovative option known as adopt-a school-programme where corporate organisations and even wealthy individuals can decide to “adopt” a school and help in meeting some its basic needs. Such organisations or individuals will of course be given the recognition and accolades they deserve. So far we have made some promising contacts.

The education of a child is not just the responsibility of the school or the teachers. It is also the responsibility of parents, relations and the entire community. We have noticed an upward spike in the delinquent and disruptive behaviours of students. This is giving us cause for concern and we believe this can be attributed to the absence of parents from the home or an increasing inability to discipline the children. I need to urge parents to be more vigilant and learn to contain the excesses of their children. The school principals have been given instructions to bring the full weight of the law (including criminal charges) down on any errant child.

The FCT has always been a model for the rest of the country and our methods of doing things have always been copied and duplicated by other states and I was informed, indeed by some other countries. I know this to be true because in my days as the Senator representing the FCT, I had the chance to tour the Territory and come in contact with the people as well as the administrators at the time.

I intend to bring back the glory days to the education sector of the FCT and I will place a lot of emphasis on the take-off of the Abuja University of Technology Abaji the completion of structures and movement to the permanent site of the FCT College of Education in Zuba, the take –off of the International Vocational Training Institute and infrastructural development with the aim of decongestion the over populated classrooms in some of our schools. I have already begun to lay the ground work for the actualisation of these goals. Sure the time may be short and resources scarce but we are determined to achieve these objectives with the support cooperation and commitment of all the stakeholders.

CONCLUSION AND APPRECIATION TO THE MEDIA.

I cannot end this address without extending our profound appreciation to the media especially the FCT Press Corps for their usual cooperation. Apart from usually giving a balanced appraisal of our performance they have also remained professional in their reportage of our activities, although there were one or two incidences during the year of which we felt we were not given a fair hearing in the court of public opinion.

We ask the media to continue to be our partners in our quest for developing the education sector of the FCT. We certainly cannot do it alone. It is only when we join hands together that we can really achieve our collective intentions.

I also wish to extend the appreciation of the Education Secretariat to the FCT minister, Mallam Mohammad Musa Bello and the Permanent Secretary, Mr Christian C. Ohaa for their support for the education sector and our programmes.

On this note, I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a happy and prosperous 2018.

I thank you for listening and may God bless us all.

EDUCATION SECRETARIAT, FCTA

 

20TH DECEMEBER 2017

Last Updated on Friday, 19 January 2018 15:07
 

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