“TO be honest, if I tell you that I am comfortable with situation, I will be telling lies. If from 2007 to date, we are still having less than 10 per cent success in WAEC examinations; then, something is wrong somewhere.
“I am heartbroken and I feel completely dissatisfied with my performance as far as education is concerned; I have done my best but we have no excuses for this consistent failure.”
These were the words of Governor Isa Yuguda of Bauchi State when he addressed education stakeholders in the state recently.
As expected, the statement elicited the commendation of observers who lauded the governor for being frank and straightforward, instead of shifting the blame on others.
The governor summoned an emergency stakeholders’ meeting to discuss the poor performance of Bauchi State students in WAEC examinations over the years.
From Yuguda’s disposition, one could clearly visualise that his agony over the situation has reached its climax.
In spite of the fact that the failure of students in the 2014 WAEC examination was somewhat nationwide, the governor’s anger probably stemmed from the fact that Bauchi State occupied the 36th position on the performance table.
The governor’s anger is, perhaps, understandable because his administration has made appreciable efforts, within the last seven years, to increase the funding of the education sector.
Observers note that the administration has been able to meet with UNESCO’s benchmark of 26 per cent of budgetary allocation to the education sector, adding that the dismal performance of the students is, therefore, inexcusable.
Barely running short of openly castigating those managing the sector, the governor dished out some statistics to buttress his claims regarding his administration’s funding of the sector.
Juxtaposing the figures with the students’ poor performance, Yuguda wondered what must have gone wrong.
He stressed that in the last seven years; his administration had spent more than N127 billion on education, representing 26 per cent of the state’s annual budget, adding, however, that there was nothing to show for the huge expenditure.
“When I took the mantle of leadership in the state in 2007, only six per cent of the entire budget was dedicated to education. I increased education’s share in the budget to 26 per cent.
“If we realised an average of N70 billion annually as revenue; it will give you N490 billion in seven years. That is the amount that came into the coffers of the state during the period.
“If you calculate 26 per cent of the amount, it will give you N127 billion. That is the money we allocated to the education sector within the last seven years,’’ he added.
Yuguda said that the money was spent on teachers’ remuneration, development of physical infrastructure and facilities; as well as provision of equipment, instructional materials and books, among others.
He bemoaned the mass students’ failure in WAEC examinations in the last seven years, buttressing his argument with some statistics.
“In 2007 when we came into office, we had 5,416 candidates who sat for WAEC examination and 240 passed with five credits, representing 4.4 per cent.  In 2008, 8,400 students sat for the exam and only 4.6 per cent of them passed.
“In 2009, we had 9,200 students who sat for the same examination and 320 passed, representing 3.4 per cent. In 2010, we had 9,800 students and 377 passed, representing 3.8 per cent.
“In 2011, 11,900 students sat for the examination and only 510 passed, representing 4.2 per cent. In 2012, we had 18,000 students but only 4.2 per cent of them passed. In 2013, it was 4.5 per cent.
“The story is not different this year, where out of the 29,332 students who sat for the examination in the state, only 1,584 passed with credits in five subjects, including English and Mathematics, representing 5.2 per cent.
“This placed Bauchi State 36th on the performance table, out of the 36 states and the FCT,’’ Yuguda said, adding: “The trend of this mass failure is alarming for a state that has invested so much in education.’’
Sharing similar sentiments, Alhaji Ibrahim Aminu, the Commissioner for Education, stressed that the state government had so far spent N20.88 billion on Senior Secondary Schools alone in the last seven years.
He said that out of the figure, N9.83 billion was spent on infrastructure, N9.44 billion was spent on students’ welfare, while the remaining sum was spent as counterpart funding for projects initiated by UNICEF and other donor agencies.
Besides, Aminu said that N1.5 billion was spent on the World Bank’s State Education Programme Investment Project (SEPIP).
He also said that seven additional zonal education offices and three sub-zonal education offices were established to enhance the monitoring and supervision of teachers.
“This administration has done so much to correct all the imbalances in the education sector; we have no reason to perform this bad in WAEC examinations,’’ Aminu said, blaming the situation on poor quality of teachers, parents’ attitude and union activities.
The commissioner said that recent inspection of schools across the state revealed the dearth of sound teachers, in spite of the huge resources which the state’s Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) and Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) had spent on training and re-training of teachers.
“Equally, union activities have paralysed the activities of the Ministry of Education in its attempt to reposition the education sector.
“Unions had, in the past, stopped the ministry from conducting the central examination approved as a means of sorting, selecting and identifying students that are qualified to move into SSIII (Senior Secondary Three) to write the final examination.
“Parents also contributed to the problems; as they tried to frustrate government’s efforts to improve students’ performance by conniving with private schools to register their unqualified children to sit for SSCE (Senior School Certificate Examinations) ill-prepared,” he said.
Aminu, nonetheless, stressed that efforts were underway to address the problems, adding that many teachers would have to be dismissed, particularly those who had no business in the teaching profession.
Expressing a similar viewpoint, Malam Danjuma Saleh the Chairman of the Bauchi State chapter of Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), conceded that a lot of teachers in the state did not have the requisite qualification to teach.
He said that over 4,000 teachers in primary and junior secondary schools across the state did not possess the minimum teaching qualification of National Certificate of Education (NCE).
Saleh, however, stressed that the crisis in the education sector could be partly attributed to inadequate motivation of teachers and students.
“The teachers are not adequately motivated by the government, just as the parents do not motivate their children to imbibe the culture of reading at home.
“The habit of creating time for reading at home no longer exists nowadays, while the students do not take their studies serious,’’ he moaned.
Besides, the NUT chairman said that the growing menace of examination leakages tended to aggravate the problem.
“The students believe in exam leakages and rely on it; consequently, they relax and do not read well to pass their exams,’’ he added.
On his part, Dr. Abdulahi Isyaku, the Provost of Bauchi State College of Education, Azare, blamed the trend on poor monitoring and supervision of teachers.
He argued that the problem was not the dearth of teachers or facilities but the poor disposition of teachers in relation to their job as a result of inadequate supervision.
“I don’t believe there are no teachers. However, the teachers are not well-supervised and as such, they are not living up to their responsibilities.
“I strongly believe that as trained teachers, even where facilities are not available, they should strive to improvise.
“With good monitoring and supervision, as well as checks and balances put in place by ministry officials, I believe better results can be obtained, “he said.
However, Dr Umar Baba, an educationist and founder of Global Mega Education, a U.S.-based NGO, underscored the need to restructure teacher training processes, as part of efforts to revamp the education sector.
He disclosed that a needs’ assessment survey conducted by his NGO revealed that Bauchi State needed about N1.2 billion to improve the capacity of public schools’ teachers to give quality service delivery.
He, nonetheless, cautioned that education transformation plans usually took time to yield fruits, adding that “experts, resources and patience are required to attain the desired goals.
“You have to continuously look for resources, build the capacity of teachers, provide infrastructure and ensure teachers’ motivation to completely transform the sector.
“This is what Gov. Isa Yuguda is doing and I commend his commitment and consistency,” Baba said.
All the same, Malam Ibrahim Labaran, a teacher in Government Comprehensive Day Secondary School, Bauchi, blamed the students’ poor performance in WAEC examinations on the Federal Government’s nine-year basic education policy.
He explained that the policy, which allowed the automatic promotion of students to the next class, regardless of their performance in promotion exams, encouraged laziness on the part of the students.
Labaran argued that the policy had somewhat compromised set standards, particularly those stipulating that students ought to score a minimum of 40 per cent in school promotion exams before being moved to the next class.
“The implication of the current policy is that students, who are unqualified and ill-prepared to move to the next class, are moved, with little or no attention given to their ability to cope.
“As a result, most of the students, especially those in senior secondary schools, often find it difficult to cope with the academic demands because of their weak academic background.
“This is one of the reasons why we continue to witness mass failure in Senior Secondary School Certificate Examinations in many schools across the country,’’ he said.
Nevertheless, Alhaji Nura Tukur, the Treasurer of Bauchi State chapter of Parents Teachers Association (PTA), said that as a concerned stakeholder, the association had been engaging qualified persons to teach the students as volunteer teachers.
He added that the PTA was giving the volunteer teachers some stipend so as to motivate them.
As stakeholders continue to look at ways of dealing with the students’ poor performance in examinations nationwide, observers, however, emphasise that the Bauchi situation is by all means peculiar, considering the resources which state government has committed to the education sector.
They insist that apart from harping on the quality of teachers, pragmatic efforts should be made to routinely release funds for the provision and maintenance of infrastructure, while ensuring that the funds are strictly used for the intended purposes.
The observers cite the case of a Junior Secondary School in Bauchi Local Government Area, whose students were depicted in some newspapers as writing their Junior