Katsina Governor, Aminu Bello Masari is serious about ensuring that the educational disadvantage between the rich and the poor in his state is curtailed.
This he has set out to achieve by ensuring that there is no special provision for the children of those who are in power, just because they can afford to send their kids to the most elitist schools around. Governor Aminu Bello Masari against all the odds, sent his two kids to a public school, the Family Support Programme Nursery and Primary School, Katsina, and, since then, people in his social circle have followed suit.
The governor has earlier directed public servants to enroll their children in public schools.
Enjoying the development, a student in the school, said: “Unlike other public schools with mediocre facilities, ours is impressive. We have better teachers and healthy environment. Teachers mind their own businesses with the coming of the governor’s children.”
Since its establishment in 1998, the school has provided more support per pupil and improved teacher quality than its counterparts, but the recent enlistment of the children of senior public servants there brought the school to the attention of the government and, “more teachers were sent there,” the student said.
A government source said the school was part of the initiatives of the Family Economic Advancement Programme (FEAP, 1997-98). The Programme was a development effort targeted at people living below the poverty line, he said.
The school was basically meant to provide quality education to eradicate child poverty as well as generate revenue. Parents were, thus, made to pay moderate fees for the running of the school, according to the source.
He said the school has recently put in place an intensive and sustained initiative to ensure success for every pupil, attract huge patronage, and promote teaching of values and discipline.
A teacher in the school, who preferred anonymity, said computers, laboratory equipment, library services and sporting facilities were provided recently.
He said in spite of the fact that the school is funded from the public treasury, parents pay reasonable amount of monies as fees to enable them have a sense of commitment and belonging to the school.
He said unlike other public schools in the state that are under the supervision of the Ministry of Education, the Family Support School is exclusively managed by the Ministry of Women Affairs.
“This gives it a little independence and freedom and things can be done differently to make it more attractive,” the teacher said.
A visit to the school by this reporter showed that pupils would not have to squirm to learn because they were in spacious and well furnished classrooms while the cleanliness of the environment is commendable.
The staff school’s room and other offices are adequately furnished.
Another teacher said teachers and other auxiliary staff are constantly supervised by the principal and external inspectors since the arrival of Masari’s children.
The teacher, however, regretted that inspectors in the rural areas have not been able to perform their duties mainly due to the delay in the payment of their allowances while cases of teacher absenteeism and shoddy lesson plans became the order of the day in such schools.
A borehole with solar powered pumps supplies water to the school while a fully equipped Information and Communication Technology (ICT) centre for training of students has been launched, in addition to sporting facilities comprising a football pitch, basketball court.
There are about 45 teachers in the school, majority of whom are university graduates in various disciplines.
New classrooms have been recently constructed to address the growing interest of those wanting to enroll their children, the teacher said.
“At the initial stage, we were having only 25 students per class but the number had increased to between 40 and 60 students per class. However, this figure is still far off when compared with the number pupils per classroom in other public schools. Other schools have over 130 pupils per class,” he said. But one major problem in the school, which is common to basic education schools in the state, is the presence of a multi-purpose laboratory, instead of separate labs for science subjects.