Bauchi govt, NEI Plus launch distribution of over one million books to boost early grade reading
From Paul Orude, Bauchi
Zainab Yahaya, a primary two pupil of Model Primary School in Bauchi, happily clutches a clear plastic file containing crisp brand new learning materials. Looking smartly dressed in blue stripped and white spotted school uniform and a veil, she is one of the 249, 292 school beneficiaries in Bauchi State in the current efforts by her state government to boost early grade reading.
The learning materials were donated by the Bauchi State Government, in collaboration with the Northern Education Initiative plus (NEI+) project funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The distribution of 1,269,987 copies of teaching and learning materials in both formal and non-formal education and the training of 6,000 teachers was recently launched under the NEI Plus project, by the state Governor, Mohammed Abdullahi Abubakar at the Banquet Hall, Government House, Bauchi, under the auspices of Bauchi State Universal Basic Education Board, (SUBEB).
In his welcome address, the Executive Chairman of SUBEB, Prof. Yahya Ibraheem Yero, noted that under the Strategic Plan for the Development of Education in the Abubakar administration, Teacher Education and Development is a vital component of standard and quality assurance. Noting that no education system can rise above the quality of its teachers as the standard of its teachers invariably affects the performance of the pupils and students, Yero revealed that to address the problem, NEI Plus through the Universal Basic Education (UBEC) and the Bauchi SUBEB have trained 20 Master Trainers and 240 Trainers of Teachers and cluster/school training for class teachers schedule to hold from September 26 to October 20, 2016.
The SUBEB Chairman said further that the training is divided into two levels: 3030 Primary 1-3 teachers in the first round slated for September 25 to October 5, 2016 and another 3050 schedule to hold in the second round from October 10-20, 2016. He explained: “The Teacher Professional Development training is targeting 6, 079 Teachers and Head Teachers in 1, 751 primary schools in the 10 NEI Plus intervention Local Government Areas.
“These teaching and learning materials will benefit 249, 292 pupils in the state comprising of 88, 998 primary one pupils, 82, 479 primary two pupils and 77, 815 primary three pupils.” He commended the state governor, Mohammed Abubakar for providing the 2014 and 2015 UBEC matching grants to the tune of N1. 8 million and UBEC for providing N7.5 million from the Teachers Professional Development (TPD), respectively, to support the reading programme implementation by the NEI Plus.
In his remarks, the Chief of Party Northern Education Initiative (NEI), Dr James Statman, said that the teaching and learning materials were carefully developed by over 100 international and Nigerian experts in pedagogue, Hausa and English Languages for maximum impact.
He revealed that the materials would be distributed in more than 100 locations in the state to boost early reading among pupils in formal schools and out-of-school children in the state. He commended the state government for demonstrating the right leadership commitment towards the project and expressed the hope that the materials would improve the reading culture among pupils in the state.
Speaking shortly after the launch, Governor Abubakar commended the Americans for the USAID-funded project as well as the Northern Education Initiative for its various programmes aimed at improving education in Northern Nigeria, noting that the state was fully committed to the successful implementation of the NEI Plus projects by building on the successes already recorded.
Arguing that education is an important requirement for the complete development of any society, as it “guarantees a responsible livelihood, promotes and develops the individuals personality, talents, mental, emotional and physical potentials to the maximum,” Abubakar added that it was in the light of this fact that his administration, is determined to transform the sector and ensure access to quality education for all school age children, adolescent girls, youths and adults who for one reason or the other “are unable to access education in the conventional schools.”
He said that the efforts of NEI Plus to strengthen existing strategies, policies and programmes that will address barriers to school participation and improve early grade reading in Hausa and English is also commendable as “the two languages are the main media of communication in our schools.”
He therefore appealed to school teachers and parents to encourage reading culture among schoolchildren by introducing them to famous Hausa books such as Magana Jari Ce, Books One to Three, Ruwan Bagaja, Labarun Da Dana Yanzu and others.
“Children will learn a lot from these books because apart from their reading abilities, the books will enrich their knowledge on Hausa culture and widen their understanding of the world,” he said.
If the NEI Plus project is well piloted, Suleiman Tanko Matori, the Head teacher of Kobi Primary School, Bauchi, observes, “it will uplift the standard of education. I am happy that my school which is the oldest primary school in Bauchi State, founded in 1912, will benefit from this project. It has produced prominent people like current Emir of Bauchi, his late father, former Minister, Alhaji Bello Kirfi, the current Deputy Governor of Bauchi State, and the current INEC Chairman Prof. Mahmud, among others.”