The Bauchi State House of Assembly has summoned the Commissioner of Education, Dr Aliyu Tilde over the issue of non-payment of West African Examination Council fees to 21,000 students that registered for the examination.
Recall that the Bauchi State government said it could not sponsor all candidates from the state fo WAEC because of lack of funds.
The final year secondary school students staged a protest to demand an explanation from the state government on why they were not included in the payment of WAEC by the state government.
This followed a motion of urgent public importance moved by a member representing Hardawa constituency of Misau local government, Babayo Mohammed during the house preliminary session.
Babayo explained that hundreds of students took to the streets last week to protest the government’s decision to sponsor only 13,000 students who passed the mock test out of the 21,000 that registered and sat for the test.
He said the issue was a big challenge because thousands registered for the exam.
While contributing, the majority leader of the House, Tijani Aliyu Madangala, commended the Commissioner for sustaining the policy, but suggested that the ministry of Education should have notified parents of its inability to pay this year’s WAEC fees as most parents rely on government for the payment of the examination fee.
“We commend the Commissioner of Education for the policies he is introducing to save the ugly situation in the education sector, but on the other hand, his action has to be with human sympathy, most especially in respect to this payment of WAEC fees” he said
Commissioner of Education Dr. Aliyu Usman Tilde appeared before the Honourable House to explain the circumstances surrounding the sponsorship of students of public secondary schools for WAEC in which some of them staged a protest in Bauchi Metropolis.
He explained that students of three secondary schools; Kofar Idi, Kofar Wambai and Ibrahim Bako were instigated by some teachers to stage a protest after the Ministry released the list of successful candidates for this year’s WAEC sponsorship. They accompanied the students to Ministry of Education and Government House. There was another report that a VP in a secondary school was instigating students to come out and protest. Also in Government Comprehensive Secondary School a teacher was doing same. Principal of the School who is the chairman of of ANCOPSS made sure no student joined the protest. They even attempted to break the get of the school to force students to join their protest.
Furthermore, the Commissioner told the Honourable House that the children are instigated by some teachers. They asked them to protest for the refund of the 800 they paid for offline registration. They hide behind the refund of the 800 naira to achieve their bid because corrupt practices are blocked.
The law for sponsorship of students for WAEC was made in 2008 and the law stated that the State Government should sponsor only students who pass mock or qualifying examination. This law has been in existence for ten years. Same was done in Special Schools during the Muazu’s administration.
The Ministry has conducted MOCK in July and up to today the result is not out.
“When I come on board I learnt that WAEC and NABTEB have withheld Bauchi students’ results because the state didn’t pay a kobo from 612 million naira it sponsored students. There was no money to pay. I begin to think we have this case on ground and another exam is in the offing, this means the money owed will reach more than a billion naira. Higher institutions were to start admission. We had to device means with commissioner finance to look for alternative source to pay half of what we owed these examination bodies so that they will release the results of our students. Upon payment of the money, they released the results. Still the state government owed them 286m.
I asked how did the amount reached 612 million naira? I discovered some external students are being inserted, some are not even indigenes of Bauchi State. They are coming from other states to benefit from the scheme. “
Dr Tilde told the House that during his screening as commissioner, he pledged to the House and people of Bauchi State that when he goes to the Ministry he will make sure things are done rightly and according to the law and that’s what he is doing now.
“We have announced since November that only those who pass MOCK will be sponsored as the law stated. We publicised it. I posted the information even on my Facebook pages. But they thought since it’s political government and we are in political era, they will find their ways so that it will be business as usual.”
“I inquire why results of MOCK are not released, there was no concrete explanation. I understand they were just allocating marks. I also discovered that all schools have the same answers meaning they have copied the answers directly from a prepared answers.”
The Commissioner further explained that he understands if he allows teachers to continue organizing the MOCK, it will be business as usual.
Thus, he contracted some graduates who were former students of Special Schools who went round secondary schools and conducted examinations to students of SS3 available in the schools. Students were asked simple questions such as what are the items sold in your market? Many of them failed.
He added that after the examination, 6017 passed. “We said it is too small. We selected more from MOCK conducted previously. That’s how we arrive at 12000+.
Some principals took our notification of the examination very serious. For example in Disina 79 wrote the exam and 54 passed because they are prepared, their principal took the notice very serious.”
We asked parents to pay 800 because whether you made the government list or you will be paid by your parents the offline registration is necessary. The Ministry didn’t take a kobo from the money received
Because we remove some corrupt elements and introduced fingerprint capture machine, block corrupt practices, they are fighting back.
It is certain that the children are instigated. If the Honourable House wish you can get the names of the culprits from the government.
We discussed and decided that we will not stop the sponsorship the way Katsina and Kano did. We will not cancel it in Bauchi State but we will follow the law.
Former Governors Yuguda and MA suffered a lot on this racketeering but couldn’t get someone to help them sanitize the system.”
Hon Yunusa Ahmad (Warji Constituency) told the Commissioner that there are a lot of complaints regarding some of his policies. In 1979 Governor Tatari Ali established secondary schools in all districts in Bauchi State. One of them where I graduated, has produced many civil servants and politicians.”
He further asked; Governor Bala Mohammad organized ministerial briefings to know the problems of Bauchi State, have you ever made an attempt to organize a stakeholders meeting so as to guide and assist you in what you are doing? You unilaterally use former students of special schools to conduct the examinations without contacting stakeholders.
You have not paid much attention to basic infrastructure in secondary schools, welfare of teachers and there is no effort on ground for such, no enabling environment for students to improve themselves and reach that standards. You should have allow them to repeat the class so that next year they can enjoy the government sponsorship, that is better than trying to demoralized them.
Hon. Bakoji Aliyu Bobbo (Chiroma Constituency) said from the explanations of the Commissioner they understand that he has tried a lot. But what instigated the protest is because of the 800.
He asked; is there any plan to payback their 800? Also, from the way the examinations are conducted, he understands the exams was not conducted by the ministry and teachers of the ministry. “Does it means you lost confidence in your teachers completely?will you punish them? How will you correct the anomalies? You can’t bring change in one day, it must follow process.
“This is political government, we will not allow our people and government to suffer. You should reconsider the matter. You should start checkmating the children right from JSS 1 so that only those who are qualified will reach SS3. We have done MOCK in our days and we even sponsored our registration to school.
” Said Hon Bakoji Aliyu Bobbo
Hon. Gazali Abubakar (Ganjuwa East) said he is satisfied with the explanations of the Commissioner. Whoever listens to him shouldn’t have any second thought. Knowing how education sector is deteriorating there must be the likes of Dr Tilde to bring the change that will benefit all in the future. But change can’t happen overnight. You have to do it bit by bit. You should make your staff have sense of belonging, they are isolated. You should identify hardworking staff who are like minds to change education sector and work with them.
Hon Gazali urged the Hon. house to support Dr Tilde. He said El Rufa’i did similar things which some people thought will cost him reelection but today Kaduna is in the right path.
Hon. Sabo Bako Sade (Sade Constituency) said the policies of the Commissioner are good but there are some corrections.
He lamented that in Sade there are 163 but only 33 are sent but we discovered 19 of them are non existence. The teachers are not doing there jobs.
He advised that there should be some balance between some areas because for example value of education in Toro and Sade is different.
Hon. Bello Muazu Shira (Shira Constituency) commended the Commissioner for all he has done. He prayed God to bless him.
He added that What common man will benefit from government is free healthcare and free education. “You should start your reforms from teachers before it reaches students. I urge you to sympathize with the students, you should withdraw this policy, pay everybody and find another way” Hon Shira said.
Responding, Dr Tilde said the call of Hon Shira that everybody should be paid is not possible because it is illegal. The law didn’t state that. “But Laws are made by you, the legislature, if today Bauchi State Assembly make a law that the State Government should sponsor all students of SS3, myself and the Governor must obey. The ball is in your court, if you wish you can refill the law but in making the law, you should state where the money will come from.” Dr Tilde responded.
On Teachers, Dr Tilde said ” it’s true that we shall concentrate on teachers. But you should know that we have started. Teachers don’t abscond from duty today because of the fingerprint capture machine in secondary schools. Teachers are going to class regularly for the first time in more than 30 years. Principals don’t need to urge teachers to come to school or enter class, the teachers are rushing to class because of the ‘devil’
On Hon Sabo Bako Sade question, the Commissioner agreed that there is disparity or difference in value of education in different areas of the State. In some places people don’t take education very serious.
There is a secondary school that is well constructed with 8 teachers posted but there are only 7 students and only five go to class. We were lenient to some areas based on that fact.
If you shut that school people will agitate that Dr Tilde closed our school despite our political contribution. You must take 7 out of the 8 teachers and post them to schools where there are students and teachers are needed”
On the status of those who failed the MOCK the Commissioner said since they reach SS3 they can pay and write for the examinations.
“We are not stopping them from writing the examination. That’s why we requested WAEC to extend their registration period. There is also NECO examination, they can pay from now to May. Even if they don’t have money they should go and look for the money for 12 months and come back next year to write their examination as internal students.”
On whether he lost confidence on his staff, Dr Tilde said it’s because the examinations are so close that’s why he looked for assistance outside. “Education is very wide, our staff can’t do everything. They can’t mark all examinations. We don’t want to divert them from their teaching job.”
On recognising like minds and working with them, he said he has overhaul examination office. “We deployed our staff with integrity to the office. They are undergoing ICT training and by next year our data will be captured by them unlike before when we have to look outside.”
On the argument that the commissioner should consider the fact that we are in political and there is political consequences to his actions.
The Commissioner said he agrees it’s political era and he must be considerate. That’s why when they get only 6000+ who passed the examinations, they decided to go back and make it 12000+.
On promotional examination to students, he said they are discussing with the teachers. Its the duty of the schools and he doesn’t know why they stopped it.
“We have now resolved to make sure only those who are eligible will move to next class. It’s because there is no promotion and demotion that’s why students don’t care to read.”
On the 800 naira collected from students for offline registration, he said the money was paid to a personal account of staff without his knowledge.
“I warned him and ask him to refund the money to schools because in the Ministry today, we are not dealing in cash, we asked all schools to open accounts. We do cash transfers. The money is being refund now. Now the government has to pay for the offline registration, about 6 million. I asked all students to collect their 800 naira on Friday.” Dr Tilde added.
On basics infrastructure, the Commissioner said they are doing their best with the little resources available.
On Boarding secondary schools that are allegedly being deboarded, he said they didn’t deboard any school.
“But we seek the approval of the executive council that any school with low students should be made a day school but with the consent of the host communities.
We understand in the northern Nigeria people prefer day schools because of security and other things. Boarding secondary schools were built without provision of day schools for those who want to go to day”
Hon Babayo Muhammad (Hardawa Constituency) said from the statistics the Commissioner presented, it is obvious some teachers inserted fake names. What will you do to punish the culprits? He asked.
Hon. Tijjani Muhammad Aliyu (Azare/Madangala) commended the Commissioner for his policies. He said even if one is jealous and envious and is ‘hasidin iza hasadan’, one has to doff his hat for Dr. Tilde.
But he urge him to persevere because some people will never appreciate him no matter what he does.
The Leader asked the Commissioner; when the policy started in special schools was it paid to all students or those who pass a certain exams?
Hon Tijjani appeal that the government should pay for everybody this year and enlighten people that only those who pass MOCK will be sponsored next year.
“This The opinion of people Azare/Madangala, whether it’s right or not I have delivered their message.” Said Leader Tijjani.
Hon. Bala Abdu Rishi (Lame Constituency) said as representative of the people he thinks the policy is too harsh on the common man, therefore on behalf of people of Lame Constituency he urged the Commissioner to reconsider the policy.
Hon. Musa Wakili Nakwada said the policies that Dr Tilde brought to reform education are commendable and only strong man with integrity can do that.
“We are the lawmakers and the law said only those who qualified should be sponsored, our hands are tied on this. Although if something can be done to ameliorate the hardship, I support. But I am 100% with Dr Tilde. I am one of those who are not happy with the policy and came here hot tempered but from your explanations I am convinced” Hon Nakwada said.
Hon. Mukhtar Sulaiman asked what is the status of the protesting students? He advised all the culprits should be punished because if some people can instigate secondary schools students to protest they can cause many troubles for the state in the future.
“I advise that the ministry should embarked on public enlightenment on the matter so that everybody will understand”
Hon. Dan’umma Bello said suggested that explanations of the Commissioner should satisfy everyone.
The House should sit and see what they can do about the matter by providing measures or law because what the commissioner is doing is backed by the law and we are the lawmakers. Also the government should go back to the grassroot and find ways to reform education by engaging all stakeholders.
Hon. Abdulkadir Umar Dewu (Kirfi Constituency) concurred with Hon Dan Umma Bello.
He said the Commissioner has given satisfying explanations. Even before we summon him we have all testified his integrity and patriotism.
“From the situation we are in, in Bauchi State, we should encourage Honourable Commissioner. Change comes with pains and must touch some people. If we want spare some people, then we can’t change education. We have seen the results of such reforms in Kaduna.” Said Hon Dewu.
Responding to the second batch of questions from the lawmakers, Dr. Tilde said he don’t intend to punish anyone but will come up with measures that will stop them from commiting such offences.
“We didn’t punish teachers who don’t go to class but bring machine that will make sure they attend. Now they are rushing to go to classes.
“You are the lawmakers, if you make a law that says everybody should be paid, we have no option. But if you say we should pay everybody, you destroy education.
The children are so reluctant because they know whether they go to school or not, whether they read or not they will be sponsored. This made them to be disrespectful to the teachers, once they enter SS3 they don’t listen to teachers they always say ‘mu hadu a hall’.
He insisted that if the policy is shifted to next year, the criticisms on the government will be even higher. “So, we decided to introduce all our reform policies now so that people will be used to them.”
Even if everything will be politicised, education should be spared. Because of politics and elections we allow everything to deteriorate. From my experience, I know all these, your achievements, actions and inactions don’t ensure election victory. Election victory is something so divine. If you are destined to win, a certain factor that will favour you will divinely come up and give you election victory. Therefore should not derail from doing the right things for the fear of losing election.
Dr. Aliyu Usman Tilde thanked the Honourable House for giving him opportunity to appear and explain the situation.
He pledged to continue working hand in hand with the legislative arm in order to reform education in Bauchi State.
He also offer to provide an office for the House Committee on Education in the Ministry so that they will be working together in all policies of the Ministry will make.
Speaker, Rt. Hon. Abubakar Y Suleiman thanked the Commissioner for the insightful and satisfying explanations on the matter.
He said the House will sit down and discuss on the next line of action on the matter so as to resolve the the matter and ameliorate the plight of the masses.