By Abraham Olatokunbo
Borno State Governor, Prof. Babagana Zulum has told principals of secondary schools in the state to tell him the truth about the state and administration of public schools in the state.
The governor, who hosted 84 principals of public schools in the state at the Government House, Maiduguri on Sunday to find solutions to problems bedeviling education in Borno State, told the head teachers not to fear victimization for saying truth about state of education.
He asked that they should be honest in telling him the realities of challenges in the system, rather than cover-up for fear of victimization.
He said: “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 the 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.”
He added that: “Education is the bedrock of any development. Without functional educational system, we shall continue to experience this Boko Haram insurgency in Borno.”
He lamented that: “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.”
The Governor, who was a University don and former Rector of the state owned polytechnic, reminisced on the glorious days on education, he said: “I can recall that twenty years ago, principals were not willing to even become permanent secretaries because of job satisfaction.”
He decried that: “Today, that satisfaction is no 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.”
The Governor assured that 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.
The Governor allowed the principals turns to voice out problems of the 84 secondary schools across Borno’s 27 local government areas.
Most of the principals that spoke complained about poor quality of primary school graduates who come into secondary schools without strong foundation.
They urged the Governor to critically look at reintroduction of common entrance examination at primary six levels, which should be yardstick for admission into secondary schools.
He subsequently directed them to write down all the problems they listed and more if any, for submission to him within one week.
He 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.
He equally directed that school authorities must henceforth take all qualifying and promotional examinations seriously as Government will monitor all conducts.