Pupils in public schools in Kano State are turning to hawking to fill their idle time as their schools are now in ruins due to neglect by the government. In this seventh report on the conditions of public schools in the state, Abdulmalik Lukman writes that the appalling situation of the schools is exacerbated by lack of competent teachers.
In Garu in Kumbotso Local Government Area Kano State, the pitiable condition of Garu Special Government Primary School is palpable.
The school is one of the oldest public schools in the area and it is well attended by hundreds of pupils. But many of these pupils are on the streets, hawking during the school hours.
Many of the pupils who spoke to the reporter pointed to the dilapidated state of the school as one of the many reasons they were not motivated to be at school. Most of the classes did not have desks and chairs as the students sat on floors while rain fell inside the classes from leaky roofs.
“My parents have no money to take my education to the city,” said one of the pupils who was hawking. “They decided since I am not gaining knowledge, I stopped going to school everyday to start hawking. Sometimes I go to morning sessions and hawk in the afternoon, or otherwise."
The appalling condition of public schools is the same in Rimin- Dankwami Government Islamiyyah Primary School in karaye Local Government Area where the pupils are taught in both western and Islamic education.
Here the pupils were found having classes in leaky roofs. They wore different uniforms: some in green, red and others in full white.
They sometimes spent a whole day in school without being taught by their teachers whom they said hardly come to classes. So instead of wasting their time coming to classes without being taught, they said they would rather hawk to make some money for their parents.
Across Karaye Local Government Area, public schools have been neglected and abandoned by the government despite the place boasting of prominent people who serve in the state and federal governments.
In Alkama Special Government Primary School and Islamiyyah, the facilities were in ruins. The pupils sat on dirty floors and cracks appeared in between the walls. They had no uniforms nor reading materials and most of them came to school wearing torn clothes.
In an interview with the chairman of Karaye Local Government Area, Balarabe Isyaku Bade, said that he had been trying to renovate schools after he recently assumed office.
"I was recently elected as the chairman of the local government eight month ago,” he said. “After my swearing in, I renovated about 3 blocks of schools. I spoke with the state government on the issue of dilapidated schools in the LGA but two schools only were renovated,” he pointed out.
"I am currently building 3 schools which are yet to be completed, while others are under construction. We are also seeking approval from the ministry of local government to help repair and renovate some of these schools."
Lukman Aliyu Karaye, a social activist, complained that the schools were poorly built.
"These schools have problems with roofing,” Karaye said. “Because when it's raining, there is no opportunity to learn; pupils have to stay home due to the roofing having decayed.
"Secondly, the schools lack learning desks and many teaching materials, such as textbooks, boards and writing materials are all unavailable. The schools are facing a lack of availability of class rooms. There are many other schools that are incompletely built for a long period of time.”
He pointed out the school has a single teacher who teaches almost 6 classes, adding that the school needs emergency response from the government.
In Sabere Primary School in Gwale Local Government Area, the pupils have turned their classes to a playground due to lack of teachers in the school.
Consequently, most students have dropped out from the schools as they roamed the village during school hours.
"In the morning, the school is filled with students but during breaktime, we mostly jump the fence and flee from classes because there is nothing to learn in the day," said one of the pupils who spoke to the reporter.
"I left school due to the lack of teachers in the classroom,” said another pupil. Most of the time, we spent all day chanting, singing and playing. We turned the classroom into a football field, because there were no chairs and desks while the teachers watched us playing."
This report was produced in partnership with Civic Media Lab School Report, an initiative to improve accountability and transparency in local education delivery, with support from the MacArthur Foundation.