By Philip Yatai
The Kaduna State Government said on Saturday that it has concluded plans to establish 80 new secondary schools as part of efforts to increase girl child access to education.
The state’s Commissioner for Education, Dr Shehu Makarfi made this known while responding to questions during a virtual Kaduna State 2021 Draft Budget Townhall Meeting, with the theme, “Budget of Recovery”.
Makarfi explained that the measure has become necessary following the dangers and difficulty faced by girls who travel long distances to attend schools in neighbouring communities.
He said that the government has already identified 80 communities with access issues where the schools would be located as part of the government’s efforts to promote girl child education.
He said that the state was already doing a lot in that regard, pointing out that the girls were catching up with the boys in terms of school enrollment.
According to him, the Annual School Census, 2019, shows girls enrollment of 48.5 per cent compared with the boys 51.1 per cent enrollment rate.
“The girls are gradually closing the ranks and I am confident that they will soon catch up with the boys and possibly surpass them.”
The commissioner also said that adequate arrangements were being made to address the issue of out-of-school children.
He said that the target group included the Almajiri children, children who do not go to school for various reasons and those that may likely stay at home due to COVID-19 even when schools reopened.
“We have made adequate plans to take about 350,000 out-of-school children back to school.
“We will also continue with our teacher training and retraining programme to improve the quality of teaching and learning in our public schools,” he added.
Makarfi equally said that adequate provisions have been made in the 2021 budget to strengthen community engagement in school management.
He said that the School-Based Management Committees would be strengthened in schools, as well as School Management Boards in boarding and some selected schools.
“It is very critical for us to have community participation in running the schools, because the government cannot do it alone.
“Without the community protecting the investments in school, we will be repeating budgets for the same projects because of vandalism,” he said.
On school reopening, the commissioner said that the state would reopen schools when it was safe to do so.
He added that the state government was currently carrying out a risk assessment to determine the safety of children from CIVID-19 before deciding when schools can open.
“We will announce when schools will be opened once we have concluded all necessary arrangements to ensure our children’s safety,” he said.
Earlier, Mr Thomas Gyang, Commissioner, Planning and Budget Commission, said that the education sector was allocated N59.6 billion, representing 25 per cent of the N237.5 billion proposed for 2021 fiscal year.