Hon. Baba Ali Maidala is the Executive Chairman, Yobe State Teaching Service Board (TSB); in this interview with nationalTrail, he spoke on how to improve educational standard under Governor Ibrahim Gaidam led administration in Yobe state and other sundry issues. He spoke with Our Correspondent, Yahaya WAKILI. Excerpts.
When you assumed office as Chairman TSB, you immediately embarked on a tour of schools in the state; can you tell us what informed that move?
This is natural as with any appointment. However, my motive is to set a standard and also to know the prevailing situation or problems facing these schools and to know how teaching is effectively being administered for our younger ones. I went round to know where to make some improvements. It is from this knowledge that I will now determine the nature of approaches to the challenges or problems which I thank God today that we have made significant improvement and both teachers and students are happy with that move. In the course of my going round, I have discussed with both students and teachers, we have shared ideas with some parents and they gave us some advice which we are also implementing to better the future of our children. This basically is the first steps we took and it has yielded very good result for which we are being applauded today. We did not only listen and come back to sit in an air condition office, but we back everything we learnt on our tour with immediate action because we believe in the future of the state and we want tomorrow to remember us that once there was somebody who cares and made efforts to make a difference.
We have heard of teachers being promoted, can you please give us the figure and what informed this rapid promotion of teachers in the state?
We promoted about 2000 teachers and we are now about to promote about 1000 plus this year in the next sitting. This is a way of saying thank you to these people who are the background of education. They need to be motivated and the way to motivate any worker is for you to find a way of saying thank you, because actually, the salary being paid is not enough to make a difference but when you tell a worker that you appreciate what he or she is doing, you make that worker to put in more in the job and that is what we are doing to our teachers. We are still on course; many teachers will soon smile home with their promotion letters. We also have the non-teaching staff in the schools, and we have so far promoted not less than 500 last year and more God’s willing will be promoted this year.
When you visited the schools, you must have seen the level of facilities in there, tell us about it and what you are doing to enhance the learning environment in schools across the state?
Well, I can tell you that government is doing its best. When you are talking about facilities in a learning environment, there is always one need or the other. Nothing actually is enough if we are talking about giving the best for our children but with what we have seen in the schools we visited; it is a good effort by government to ensure that the schools are being attended to in all areas of needs. This is not enough like I said, but it is something good to start with. We are above average in terms of giving the needed facilities in whatever form to our schools in Yobe state. This has gone to show in our level of passes in NECO and WAEC examinations. As we speak, we have about 600 teachers undergoing in-service training, we have sent teachers to workshops to obtain the needed teaching skills and we have given attention to improving on the structure in the schools. Yes, I can also tell you that the training of teachers is not only here in Nigeria but we have sent some abroad to acquire knowledge, which we hope they would impact such knowledge to our students as well as retrain other swho are yet to go for such training.
We have observed that, there is shortage of Science teachers in Yobe state. Do you have plans to recruit science teachers in other to bridge this gap?
Of course, we need teachers. We are making every effort to recruit because science teachers are never enough. Our problem is money. If we have enough money we can recruit more and put them in reserve if I may use that word. Teachers, particularly science teachers are in high demand, we need them in our schools and like I said even more. However, that is not to say that we do not have science teachers in our schools. We have them.
What are your challenges since assumption of office as a Executive Chairman, Teaching Service Board?
Challenges are many, but I have a target to meet. That is to improve education standard in Yobe state and to be remembered for that is all my interest, which I consider most important. I am working towards that goals and by God’s grace we shall achieve that goal.
How would you rate the Gaidam’s administration in terms of provision of education in the state?
Excellent! If I have better word than that; no government in the past in Yobe state has put in what this administration is putting in the education sector. No government has contributed as much as Gaidam is contributing, no government in Yobe has promoted teachers to the standard Gaidam is promoting, no government in Yobe has given the teachers furniture loan to the level this administration is giving to teachers. No government in Yobe has sponsored up to 600 teachers for training and pays their salaries regularly. To this, we commend the Gaidam’s administration and are doing the little we can to back the administration in every area we can.
Finally, what message do you have for teachers and parents in Yobe state?
Teachers should reciprocate the gesture of this government by putting in their best; giving the student’s the best. We cannot settle for anything less. It is our prayer that our governor continues with the kind of support he is now giving to the people of the state particularly to education. I would urge that, Parents Teachers Associations (PTAs) should also come in, assist the schools to develop the students because funding of education is a task that should not be left to government alone.