KANO, NIGERIA —
Critics say Nigeria’s educational system is failing to graduate students who can write and use math and other skills needed to become self-sufficient.
The Education Sector Support Programme in Nigeria, or ESSPIN, is working to change that. It’s funded by UK-Aid, part of the Department for International Development (of the government of Great Britain).
Its state team leader in Kano State, Olakekan Saidi, says the program aims to create an environment that’s child-centred.
"We observed, through the annual school census," he said, "that we don’t have enough skilled and qualified teachers to take this forward. Besides that, in terms of gender, the environment has not really supported girls’ education enough, and having a classroom size [that meets] international standards is still a challenge in some areas. In essence, [ESSPIN programme] is supporting the state in improving the quality of education in the north."
He says his organization has introduced pilot projects and support in solving some of these and other problems, including the professional development of teachers.
He also says one of the fundamental things they have done so far is to build the capacity of staff of Kano state ministry of education to conduct the annual school census (ASC). The ASC will help to provide data and information required for planning, management and the effective use of state resources.
So far, the census reveals that in Kano state, there over two million pupils in over 8,600 schools receiving basic education. These include pupils at Islamiyya integrated schools, which teach both Western and Islamic curricula.
With these figures, it will be possible to project the number of teachers and other resources needed to achieve quality education in our schools.
"We have done tremendous work equipping and training head teachers, class teachers and school support officers on school management and leadership skills and modern pedagogy," he said. "The State School Improvement Team (SSIT) was established and members trained. It supports head teacher and class teacher training in three pilot projects."
ESSPIN is collecting data and using studies to improve understanding and develop options for integrating religious and non-religious curricula in Islamic schools in three local government areas of Kano state.
Saidi also says a school based management committee has been established to enable local participation in the education of children. The group is made up of teachers, school officials and representatives of the community.
In addition, ESSPIN is providing water and sanitation to schools to increase enrollment and quality of education by improving school infrastructure.
ESSPIN is one of several state-level programmes funded by the UK Department for International Development which works on good governance, accountability and the delivery of health and education services.
It supports federal and state authorities as they work to improve the education children receive.