Governor Babagana Umara Zulum on Sunday hosted 84 principals of all public secondary schools in the State but at the beginning, Zulum conditioned them to be honest in telling him the realities of challenges in the system, rather than cover-up for fear of victimization.
The Governor, a university professor himself, gave the condition in his opening remarks at the multipurpose hall of the Government House in Maiduguri, where the meeting took place.
Zulum aimed to get a first hand, undiluted information from the principals, on problems facing public secondary school system in Borno.
“I have been to several schools, and each time I asked, some of you principals found it difficult to explain the problems in your schools. I was later made to understand that if you tell me truth, you would either be transferred somewhere you wouldn’t like, or somehow be victimized. Please I beg all of you to tell me the truth. Let us tell ourselves the truth so that we can improve Borno’s public education from where we are now. I am pleading with you to please be upright, be honest. Education is the bedrock of any development. Without functional educational system, we shall continue to experience this Boko Haram insurgency in Borno. Look at the kind of students we are graduating from our public secondary schools, most of them do not qualify for admission into universities, even those who get admitted find it very difficult to cope. I assure you that telling me the truth will not lead to anything happening to any of you by God’s grace” Zulum told the principals.
The Governor went down memory lane to remind the principals of glorious days, and the need for all stakeholders to regain quality in public school system.
“I can recall that twenty years ago, principals were not willing to even become permanent secretaries because of job satisfaction. Today, that satisfaction is longer there. There is general decline in the standard of education in public institutions all over the country. There is the lack of qualified teachers, inadequate teaching facilities, poor maintenance culture, general decay of infrastructure, Government’s inability to ensure monitoring and evaluation, centralized control by the Ministry, unnecessary bureaucracy, and irregular training and retraining of teachers and other essential staff. There is poor data management and indiscipline amongst the major problems affecting the public school system” Zulum enumerated.
The Governor assured measures will continually be adopted to improve the training and welfare of teachers and administrators of public school system to motivate high performance while supervision will be drastically changed for the purpose of punishing those unready to change.
After the Governor’s remark, the principals took turns to voice out problems of the 84 secondary schools across Borno’s 27 local government areas.
Most of the principals complained about poor quality of primary school graduates who come into secondary schools without strong foundation. They urged the Governor to critically look into reintroduction of common entrance examination at primary six levels, which should be yardstick for admission into secondary schools.
… No common entrance, no JSS 1’
After listening to the 84 principals, Governor Zulum directed them to write down all the problems they listed and more if any, for submission to him within one week.
The Governor also directed the immediate reintroduction of the common entrance examination at primary six levels.
Zulum also directed the enforcement of a qualifying policy that henceforth, only pupils who pass the examination by securing a cut-off mark, should be eligible for admission into the first year of junior secondary schools (JSS 1), as against giving admissions to all pupils regardless of common entrance criteria.
Zulum also directed that school authorities must henceforth take all qualifying and promotional examinations seriously as Government will monitor all conducts.