FG Unveils Programme To Overhaul School Infrastructure In Northeast

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The Federal Government (FG) has launched a multi-year Accelerated Senior Secondary Education Programme targeted at overhauling school infrastructure, modernising curricula and integrating virtual learning technologies.

The Senior Special Assistant to the Vice President on Media and Communications, Mr Stanley Nkwocha disclosed this in a statement on Saturday.

The statement titled ‘FG moves to overhaul school infrastructure, launches N’East initiative,’ noted that: “The initiative is a major policy drive to bridge the gaping educational divide in the country, beginning from the North-East region.”

Unveiling the initiative in Bauchi State, Vice President Kashim Shettima said the comprehensive, phased programme aims to rapidly upgrade secondary education across three core pillars.

These pillars are; enhancing access to tertiary institutions, imparting market-relevant skills, and upskilling teachers to stay ahead of disruptive innovations like artificial intelligence.

Shettima emphasised that the initiative directly addresses President Bola Tinubu’s vision to confront the North East’s multifaceted challenges – from the security crisis to stagnant human capital outcomes.

According to the VP, each person occupies their current position due to the privilege of education made possible by someone along the way who provided an environment for learning and incentives to continue, a tradition he said must not be broken.

In his address titled, “Bridging the Gap: Transforming Education in the North-East,” Shettima declared that they had assembled to undertake the noble mission of safeguarding the educational opportunities that had empowered successive generations to achieve their current standing.

He noted that the vast disparity in quality of life between those who embrace education and those who do not serves as a glaring and lasting reminder of the profound benefits education provides.

Stating that surveys are needed to highlight this difference, as it is evident across all facets of society, Shettima pointed out that the North-East sub-region, in particular, had been a victim of the collective failure to implement uniform policies driving school enrolment.

This, he added, is compounded by the persistent cultural aversion to formal education among various communities in the region.

“We occupy bottom-most positions in education indices, reflective of our inability to enforce uniform policies on school enrolment amid persistent cultural pushback in some communities,” he said.

While primary education “provides the foundational interest in Western education,” the Vice President said, “it is secondary education that serves as the critical bridge between students and their paths to becoming self-reliant and relevant in modern society.”

Nkwocha further explained that, under ASSEP’s umbrella, the government will stimulate high-quality instruction, incentivise STEM achievement, revamp dilapidated classrooms to modern specifications, and cultivate an enriching academic environment through innovations like quiz competitions, exam coaching camps and intensive teacher training.

A core technological component will be scaling up virtual learning capabilities, leveraging online modules to supplement in-person instruction and narrow the digital divide.

“The North-East Development Commission stands firm in its mission to execute His Excellency, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s vision for this geopolitical zone.

“Mr President treats our challenges as top priorities, from the security lapses we have inherited to this setback in our educational pursuits,” VP Shettima said.

Implementation will be divided into phases – addressing urgent needs first, followed by infrastructural groundwork for expansion, before ASSEP’s comprehensive scaling across the region.

In his remarks, on behalf of governors of the Northeast region, the Governor of Borno State, Prof. Babagana Zulum, pledged the support of governors from the region in the successful rollout of the programme in the area.

He said the ASSEP programme aligns with the focus of the various state governments in the education sector which seeks to improve the quality of teachers, learning outcomes in schools and the overall educational environment, leveraging technology.

The Governor assured that they will do their best to see that ASSEP becomes the signpost of their respective states’ commitment to a functional education system, ensuring that the states benefit from the opportunities that ASSEP provides.

On his part, the host governor, Sen. Bala Mohammed of Bauchi, said the state welcomes every opportunity provided to improve the education sector, having declared a state of emergency in the sector.

He outlined efforts made by the state government to overhaul the education sector in the state, especially focusing on science-based education and teacher training, even as he assured that his administration will support the ASSEP programme with the provision of logistics in centres across the 3 senatorial zones in the state.

Also, the Managing Director of the NEDC, said the programme which will help accelerate teacher training and access to tertiary education in the region, is being prioritized by the commission.

Meanwhile, the Senior Special Assistant to The President on Regional Development and NEDC, Dr. Mariam Masha, said ASSEP is a major revolution in human capital development in the North East.

According to her, it is designed to transform key education outcomes across major areas of admission to tertiary institutions; skills development; teacher quality upgrade; and further advance knowledge in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and agricultural science.

The high point of the event was the presentation of the virtual learning platforms by students from selected schools in the North East Region who are the first beneficiaries of ASSEP.

While in Bauchi State, the Vice President also commissioned the newly reconstructed government house, calling on governors of the North East states to collaborate more closely to foster economic growth and improve the living conditions of the people of the region.

He said this can be done by adopting proactive measures in “attracting and supporting businesses and investments, leveraging untapped resources such as land, minerals, and human capital.

“We must collaborate to address fiscal challenges, enhance administrative practices, and maintain a conducive business environment,” the Vice President added.

The VP who expressed satisfaction with the quality of governance in the North East, said, “The commissioning of this new complex in Bauchi State symbolizes a commitment to enhancing administrative capacity and governance at the state level.”

Earlier in his address, Bauchi State Governor, Mohammed, thanked and commended the VP for his presence at the occasion and visionary leadership.

Mohammed said the projects undertaken and completed by his administration were envisioned with the infrastructural transformation of the state at heart and the overall well-being of the people.

In separate remarks, a former Governor of the State, Adamu Muazu and former Military Administrator of the State, Maj. Gen. Chris Garuba, commended Governor Mohammed for his visionary and courageous leadership, especially in prioritising the welfare and well-being of the people in the projects and programmes of his administration.

After brief remarks by speakers at the event, the Vice President, accompanied by the governors and other dignitaries, undertook a guided tour of the newly constructed Bauchi State Government House.

At the 15th edition of the North-East Joint Trade Fair, Vice President Shettima urged states in the region to leverage their comparative advantage to actualize the region’s developmental aspirations.

According to the VP, the trade fair is not just a heritage to preserve, but a moment to reflect on “our past and define our future direction.

“In examining our current economic and demographic landscape, we must identify the areas where we hold both comparative and absolute advantages,” he added, saying”We have realized that we can only achieve practical growth in trade across the country if we produce.”

Shettima explained that President Tinubu’s vision is to enhance Nigeria’s trade proposition in global markets and value chains by transforming Nigeria into a manufacturing hub.

“This strategy will reduce import bills and diversify exports. This will bring forth key macroeconomic goals like exchange rate and price stability and high employment rates,” he added.

On his part, Chairman of the North-East Governors Forum, Governor Zulum of Borno State appealed to the federal government to ensure improved power supply to the region to boost commerce and trade in the area, just as he commended the Federal Government for what it is doing and has done so far for the region.

The VP, accompanied by the North East governors, some members of the National Assembly and ministers, also paid a courtesy visit to the palace of the Emir of Bauchi, Rilwanu Adamu.

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