The Gate of GSSS Kankara, Katsina State.

The state of Government Science Secondary School, Kankara, before renovation was appalling. It was not imaginable that human beings could have lived there. First of all, the school was heavily infested by rodents and bats. They were all over the place; inside the roofs, on trees, inside the walls, almost every opening was a door to the house of an extended family of rats. Simply put, the staff and students of the school were forced to cohabit with these unwanted neighbors, thereby causing the former a great discomfort by the heavy stench of their droppings in the air. As a visitor to the school, even now that the renovation is almost 70 percent completed and the uninvited guests driven away forever, one gets hit by the acrid smell in the dense air and is denied any breath of fresh air.

There is no imagining how the staff and students of this school lived in that condition for decades, exposed to this hazardous polluted air, and the malaise caused by the infestation of rodents in every nook and cranny of the school.

There was a complete breakdown of infrastructure. All the buildings, including the principal’s apartment, appeared to have been overrun by invaders, and left for ruins. As any person in this unfortunate condition would certainly think, raining season was thought to be disastrous in this school. The hostels were always flooded with water, the beds had broken, and the tattered ceilings rained water on the students that supposedly took shelter beneath them, thereby making them completely submerged in water from the above and below.

Even worse, there were no door and window frames in the thresholds, the paint had since peeled off, the backside fence surrounding the school had not been there for decades. Only God knows how many dangerous things and people might have creeped into the school and harmed the students, the staff and their children.

The classrooms were not any better. Tables and chairs had broken. Teachers were eager to go out because of the terrible stench of bats and rodents up in the roofs and inside the walls. Even after leaving the class, the stench would stick to their clothes for a long time. The poor students would receive instruction for a period of 7 hours in that unpleasant odour and still go back to their hostels for a dose of another, 2-4-7.

The staff quarters, kitchen, mosque etc. were equally in bad shape.

Successive generations of students had not had the pleasure and safety of using toilets for years. The only option they had was to run to the adjoining bush and squat. As to how they bathed, we can only live that to the imagination.

The water and electricity systems of the school were grossly inadequate. As to the source of water supply, the entire school was left to the mercy of 2 stingy wells and 2 worn-out handpumps that were very much incapacitated by the overwhelming number of staff and students of the school that so faithfully relied on them for their drinking water, bathing and other chores, -not to talk of the kitchen needs.

No greater testament to the dire condition of electricity in the school than the state of electric fittings, which were not only inactive but reaped off from the walls and ceilings in most of the students’ hostels and classrooms. The resident architect supervising the renovation of the school, Mu’awiya Maikudi Kankia said that he was saddened when he saw the students going to prep with N150 touch-light.

As stated by the Senior Master Admin. of the school, Malam Muhammad Kudu Hamid, successive attempts have been made in the past to get the government to renovate the school so that both the staff and students can live, learn and teach respectively, in a healthy and conducive environment. But all were to no avail.

For a long time, education in Katsina State has been at its lowest ebb. Students’ performance in central examinations like WAEC and NECO has hit rock-bottom. It is not imaginable that quality teaching and learning can be achieved in this repelling conditions of educational infrastructure. And to be fair, any expectations of good performance on the part of the students and quality teaching on that of the teachers by the past administrations and the public at large were unwarranted demands. Because the necessary conditions have not been provided.

Most of the secondary schools in the state were in this unfortunate condition, which is why they yielded little or no positive results, as they ought to. However, with the renovation of this school and more than two hundred others by the administration of Governor Aminu Bello Masari, the education sector has begun to be resuscitated and light has finally appeared at the end of this age-long tunnel of neglect and dilapidation.

Last week, Governor Masari lamented passionately on the sordid state of education in the state when he attended the maiden matriculation ceremony of the Katsina State Institute of Technology and Management (KSITM).  He complained bitterly about the mess created by the past administrations in the state education sector, the result of which is manifested in the poor performance of Katsina State secondary schools in central examinations like WAEC and NECO. He expressed his desire to see Katsina State competing with others out there, but, alas, that is not the case. “There is the need to compete with others, but we cannot do that without education”, he said.

The Governor encouraged the matriculated students to work hard and believe in themselves as capable of doing anything. He assured them of his administration’s commitment in making sure that the State Government continues to support them.

Since the inception of his administration, Gov. Masari has embarked on a restoration agenda which is aimed at restoring the state to its past glory in various aspects, among which is education. The Chairman of the Education Restoration Committee revealed that the Masari administration has expended more than 10 billion Naira in the education sector, and more than 250 schools have received infrastructural development within the last two years.

Not long ago, the State Government supplied branded instruction materials worth 660 million Naira for distribution in Junior and Senior Primary schools across the state. Currently, the Government is deploying about 2,000 new teachers to teach in primary and secondary schools in order to ensure adequate teachers in the state.

In a bid to enhance teachers’ welfare and ensure quality service, the government has promoted 19,600 teachers with effect from 2013,14, and 15. It is currently working on 2016 and 2017 promotions.