Prior to the current administration, the state of education in Kogi State lacked clear direction. A comprehensive 2017 survey conducted by ACTIONAID/PIBCID revealed critical insights into the education sector’s performance and challenges in the state.
These findings highlighted deficiencies in performance and instructional delivery that hindered the achievement of critical goals: improving literacy rates, advancing Early Child Care Development Education (ECCDE), enhancing the quality of education from basic to tertiary levels, promoting girl-child education, and elevating ICT skills and STEM education.
In response to these challenges, the Ministry of Education, Science, and Technology in Kogi State organized the 2018 State Education Summit, known as the ‘Education Roadmap.’ This summit gathered stakeholders to devise strategies for the state’s educational development. Subsequently, the Kogi State Education Law of 2020 was enacted to provide guidance and regulation for the education sector’s operations in the state.
The Ministry of Education, Science, and Technology, Kogi State has gone a step further by developing the State Education Strategic Plan (SESP) 2021-2030 and the State Education Operational Plan (SESOP) 2021-2027, which align with the Ministerial Strategic Plan (MSP) to address gaps in the education sector.
Under the leadership of His Excellency, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, the administration has transformed the education landscape from one marked by neglect and decay to one filled with hope, improved access, equity, infrastructure development, and enhanced service delivery.
One of the administration’s groundbreaking achievements in the education sector was the allocation of 30% of the budget to education in each fiscal year from 2021. This allocation exceeded the UNESCO-recommended benchmark of 26%, underscoring the government’s unparalleled commitment to education in the state. To ensure effective utilization of this investment, the state government conducted training sessions for over 2,000 school managers, focusing on curriculum delivery, quality assurance, and enhanced efficiency in partnership with NTI, NPC, NERDC, and FME. Additional training sessions on conducting the Annual School Census have been provided to over 1,500 individuals by the Ministry of Education, Science, and Technology.
To enhance the workforce in the education sector, the government recruited an additional 3,979 teachers in February 2023 from a pool of 22,342 applicants.
Before 2015, Kogi State’s education landscape was a cause for concern. The performance of Kogi students in national examinations like WAEC, NECO, and JAMB was disheartening. However, the current administration ushered in a transformative era. Substantial investments in educational infrastructure and the welfare of of teachers and management staff have elevated the standard of Kogi students. This is a testament to the power of commitment and strategic planning.
According to statistics from the Federal Ministry of Education, the number of out-of-school children in Kogi State stood at 554,943 between 2014 and 2015. Through concerted efforts, the current administration has reduced that figure to 86,803, ranking Kogi as the 9th state with the lowest number of out-of-school children in Nigeria as of 2019. With the renewed commitment of the government under the leadership of Governor Yahaya Bello, it is anticipated that every school-age child will be in the classroom before 2024. Achieving this involved investments in primary education, renovating 833 classroom blocks, constructing 1,800 classrooms across the state, and establishing GYB Model Science Schools in the last 3 three years. It also involved training and retraining of teachers across all schools in the state.
Schools offering free education provide a pathway for individuals without financial resources to access quality education. These institutions alleviate the financial burden on students, enabling them to focus on their studies and living costs without the worry of school fees.
In the current economic climate in Nigeria, many parents are faced with the challenges of paying schools fees. This burden on parents was exacerbated during the period of fuel subsidy removal. In response to these challenges, the federal and state governments provided palliatives, primarily in the form of food distribution to households across the country to cushion the harsh effect.
Governor Yahaya Bello took a visionary and audacious step on September 21, 2023, by declaring free education from primary school to secondary school levels in all public schools in Kogi State. Furthermore, the government committed to covering examination fees for WAEC, NECO, and JAMB examinations, a testament to the leadership’s understanding of the importance of investing in the future.
The provision of free education eliminates the financial burden associated with school fees, allowing students to focus on their academic pursuits without the distraction of school fees concern. In Kogi State, Governor Bello’s policy of zero out-of-school children is now firmly established by this free education policy. By ensuring that all children, regardless of their socioeconomic background, have access to quality education, Governor Yahaya Bello’s administration promotes inclusivity and equal opportunities for all. This reduces educational disparities, alleviates poverty, fosters economic development, enhances social mobility, and challenges traditional gender norms and stereotypes. In Kogi State today, under the leadership of Governor Yahaya Bello, parents who refuse to send their children to school are subject to penalties.
Governor Bello’s administration has also made remarkable strides in the state’s tertiary institutions. In an era where education stands as the bedrock of progress and development, the Bello-led administration in Kogi State has recognized the critical need to ensure young school leavers have access to higher education. To this end, the government embarked on an ambitious journey that led to the establishment of not one, but two state-owned universities: the Confluence University of Science and Technology in Osara in 2020 and Kogi State University in Kabba in 2023, supplementing the existing one. This monumental achievement has broadened the horizons of opportunities for the youth, unlocking doors that were once unimaginable.
Governor Bello’s commitment to ending the recurring industrial strike actions in all state-owned tertiary institutions stands as one of his significant accomplishments in the state’s education sector. For seven consecutive years, an environment of uninterrupted academic activities has prevailed, providing students with the stability and consistency they rightfully deserve. This not only enhances the quality of education but also bolsters the state’s reputation as a center of learning and innovation.
In the face of the economic challenges afflicting our nation, Governor Bello has exhibited genuine empathy for the struggles of parents. His declaration of free education from primary to secondary levels has alleviated a substantial financial burden on families throughout the state. Furthermore, his commitment to covering examination fees for WAEC, NECO, and JAMB examinations demonstrates a governor who comprehends the paramount importance of investing in the future. This focus on free primary education plays a fundamental role in ensuring that everyone has equitable access to education, a matter of immense significance for individuals, communities, and entire nations.
Adeyemi Williams, PhD
Public Affairs Analyst
Writing from the State of Osun