Kano state, unarguably northern Nigeria’s biggest economy, appears to be walking its big talk on education as the administration of Governor Umar Abdullahi Ganduje has revealed in the state’s financial proposal of about N198 billion presented to the Kano State House of Assembly for consideration, a shift in the development priority of the state.
The 2020 budget proposal tagged delivered to the State House of Assembly the other day indicated that the state is strategically moving away from massive investment in urban infrastructure development, done with the aim of turning Kano into a ‘Mega City,’ to focus on human capital development. This is remarkable.
Kano State has since the first tenure of the Ganduje administration made urban infrastructural development the main objective of the regime, which is a follow-up to spending pattern inherited from the Kwankwaso government in which he was Deputy Governor.
In his address, while delivering the annual budget, Governor Ganduje disclosed that his government planned spending a total of N197,683,353,659 in the 2020 financial year, lower than total budget size of N219 billion expended in the previous year.
In the proposal, which was tagged “Budget of Sustainable Social Development,” 60% of the budget, amounting to N117,710,626,881, was voted for capital projects, translating into a decrease of 12%, when compared with what was set aside for capital projects in 2019 budget. The remaining 40%, amounting to N79,972,726,778 of the budget was allocated for recurrent expenditure, and this also translated into a 15% decrease, as against the amount expended for the same purpose in the previous financial year.
Interestingly, in line with the administration new development priority, education sector received the lion share of the budget with N49.9 billion, which represented 25.23% of the total budget. To underscore the new deal, the governor stated that a sizable portion of N2.4 billion of the total vote for the education sector would be used yearly to fund the newly introduced free and compulsory education the state was launched last year. In the same vein, as a way of boosting the health of citizens of the state, a total of N30.7 billion, representing about 15.5% of the budget is devoted to the various programmes and policies to be executed by the state. Also, in order to complete some of the on-going urban modernisation projects as well as start new ones, the administration intends spending N33.8 billion, representing about 16% of the budget for Works and Housing Sector. The 2020 budget is less than the 2019 budget of N219 billion with N134 billion for capital projects and N88 billion for recurrent expenditure.
Kano’s journey to this exemplary management of priorities began in October last year when the state launched free and compulsory basic and secondary education policy with fanfare amidst concern for the impact of campaign by a terror group against western education in parts of northern region. This newspaper then noted that it was a remarkable lesson that all states in the north should embrace immediately.
Then Governor Ganduje noted that, the objective of the summit, which heralded the policy was “to discuss, analyse and generate ideas towards the implementation of our vision for free and compulsory basic and secondary education.” The governor also noted at the launch that his commitment to the policy was borne out of a promise he made on assumption of office for the second term on May 29, 2019, “to provide free and compulsory education from Primary to Senior Secondary School level.’’
It is gratifying to note that the governor of the commercial capital of the north and the most populous state recognises the pivotal role of education as the primary agent of change in our society.
It has been disturbing to note from available statistics that Nigeria has over 10.5 million out-of-school children. But it has also been more alarming to note that 60% of that figure represent the girl-child. Also eight million of those out-of-school children are in 10 northern states of Nigeria with Kano having the lion’s share. Specifically, available figures indicate that over three million of these out of school children are in Kano.
In view of this daunting challenge, it is will be gratifying to that the government, which last year set up a committee to conduct a census of all out-of-school children with a view to updating the available data and ensuring adequate planning in preparation for the implementation of this all-important education policy has collected a report. This will further consolidate the commitment of the state government to the Better Education Service Delivery for All (BESDA), a UNICEP programme, which is aimed at ensuring equitable access to basic education for out-of-school-children.
Intrinsically linked to this policy is the issue of Quar’anic and Islamiyya schools for which statistics has indicated that there are 13,619 of these schools with over 2.5 million pupils. In order to streamline these schools and integrate them into the free and compulsory education programme, Kano State Government has set up Qur’anic and Islamiyyah Schools Management Board. This is how it should be to avoid ad-hocism that dots our policy environment, where discipline of execution has become a huge challenge. The Kano State Government at the October 2019 education summit announced that it had abolished the payment of school fees in all public secondary schools with effect from September 2019. Accordingly, government has commenced the direct funding of such schools numbering 1180 with a total students’ population of 834,366 at a total cost of about 200 million naira per month or 2.4 billion naira per annum.
As this newspaper also noted then, the Kano State education initiative is significant for the country for a number of reasons. Three years after the adoption of Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG 4) and the promise to provide universal primary and secondary education, there has been no progress in reducing the global number of out-of-school children, adolescents and youth.
New data from the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) show that there are still about 258.4 million children and youth are out of school for the school year ending in 2018. As in previous years, sub-Saharan Africa remains the region with the highest out-of-school rates for all age groups. Of the 59 million out-of-school children (OOSC) of primary school age, 32 million, or more than one-half, live in sub-Saharan Africa.
In the main, we call all the states in the north and indeed the country to make human capital development a priority sector in budgetary allocation and utilization. The only known weapon of country and global competiveness is quality in education. And this begins at local levels, not at the centre. The Kano State Government deserves a plaudit for this laudable initiative and courage to face the future. Despite all odds, Kano state is demonstrating that indeed education will, in the main, make a people easy to lead and impossible to enslave.