Wednesday, October 17, 2018

INVESTIGATION: The technical college where practicals are rare and teachers buy chalk

INVESTIGATION: The technical college where practicals are rare and teachers buy chalk
January 29
08:13 2018
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A science and technical school has one major goal: to train students to become self-reliant and self-employed. TheCable discovers a technical school that lacks basic technical equipment — and that means products of Federal Science and Technical College, Kafanchan, Kaduna state, will end up learning a lot of nothing .


STORY HIGHLIGHTS

  • No electricity to carry out functional workshops
  • Teachers say it is frustrating to teach without equipment
  • Students sit on the ground in the classrooms
  • Parents accuse former principal of mismanagement

“The school only carries technical in name. In reality, there is nothing technical about it,” a teacher said, waving in the direction of a dilapidated structure inappropriately named Federal Science and Technical College, Kafanchan, Kaduna state.

It was established twenty-eight years ago, and it is one of the 154 science and technical colleges designed to respond to the country’s growing socio-economic needs. TheCable found out that the college lacks major training equipment as well as functional workshops.

Teachers, who cannot be named because of civil service rules, were full of lamentation — it is becoming increasingly difficult to teach technical subjects without equipment.

During two workshops— “plumbing and pipe fitting” and “electrical installation, radio and television” — TheCable found that the equipment was not enough to teach the large population of students in the class.

“The only workshop that qualifies as a technical workshop is the motor vehicle mechanic (MVM) workshop,” one of the workshop instructors, said. “All the other workshops, except the MVM, are nothing to write home about. The equipment available is even outdated.”

According to him, other workshops for trade subjects such as the plumbing and pipe fitting (PPF), carpentry and joinery (C&J), painting and decorations (P&D), bricks blocks concreting (BBC), and the information and technical drawing room, just exist by name. They are workshops of nothingness.

Teaching of technical subjects is mainly about workshop practicals, but the school lacks functional technical workshops. They would have to make do with theories. Technical theories, as it were.

“Practical works are supposed to take place twice a week, but that is not possible due to lack of equipment and electricity,” another teacher said.

“You have about 45 to 50 students in a class, so if you are taking them for practical, you have to divide them into groups of 10 or 15 because all of them cannot be in the workshop at the same time as a result of space and limited equipment.”

For these teachers of technical subjects, no experience could be more frustrating than teaching without necessary tools for proper learning.

“And when we request for some of these things that are basic, the school management feels it is waste of money,” a teacher said.

“There was a time teachers had to buy chalk from their own purse. We had to protest before that problem was attended to,” she added.

NO ELECTRICITY TO CONDUCT PRACTICAL

The school clinic, so to say

Despite the fact that the school has two big power generating engines, electricity supply is one of the challenges of the school as the teachers alleged that the management cannot fuel the generators.

A teacher explained that practical works are supposed to last for four hours — from 10:00am to 2:00pm — twice a week, but because of the challenges, they only take place once a week and lasts for two hours if there is electricity.

For a technical college, the standard, the teacher explained, is that practical works should at least run for six hours in a week and not two hours that the school still struggles with.

“In most cases, once there is no electricity or diesel practical works for the week are canceled,” he said.

According to the 2017 national budget, N442,399,132 million was allocated to this school. Of this sum, N1.6 million was allocated to cover electricity charges, N178,370 budgeted for fuel and diesel, while N713,480, is allocated for the maintenance of generator plants. Despite this, lack of electricity is a major setback in training the students.

Principals with no technical background

Teachers think part of the problem with the school is how the federal ministry of education appoints principals without the requisite qualifications for a technical school.

Of all the principals who have served in the school, only one or two had technical background; the rest are said to be graduates of adult education, Arabic and social studies, while the one who recently retired studied home economics.

“They appoint people with no technical background. Thus as a non-technical teacher, it is hard for them to be on the same page with us,” a teacher said, disclosing that on many occasions when they try to explain things to these principals, they don’t seem to understand.

“When you are trying to explain to them that this equipment or machine is key to the teaching of technical subjects, it is like you are speaking Latin to them,” he said. “So, it is frustrating because the students are not given the right training that they are supposed to get.”

POROUS SECURITY

Students can get denied food for losing their spoon

Outsiders now walk unhindered through the school’s main gate through a footpath that links them to a low-cost housing estate nearby. As a result, several school property was reported to have been stolen, including a water pipe supplying water to the school.

“It is the grace of God that has continued to protect the staff and students here,” a member of staff told TheCable.

“As you can see, anybody can come into the school premises and do anything and get away with it. Nobody goes around the hostels in the night to check what is happening to the students.

“Under normal circumstances, we are supposed to have enough security around the hostels, especially in the night.

“The school does not have a fence, so people even come inside and steal. There had been cases of stealing in the school. The security men are just eight. They make three shifts – morning, afternoon and night for a big school like this. So, both students and staff are prone to danger.”

Shekarau: “Parents pay N15, 000 per term for boarding, in addition to other charges, yet the students are poorly fed”

‘TYPHOID IS COMMON AILMENT HERE’

A lack of functional toilet facilities at the school sends most of the students to the bush to defecate.

The water system in all the toilets have since collapsed and the toilets are littered with faeces.

“Most of us go to the bush because we can’t use these toilets,” a female student told TheCable.

The functional few are the ones recently constructed under the millennium development goals (MDG) programme, and the toilets are assigned only to members of staff and students in senior classes.

Junior students have no other choice but to go to the bushy part of the school to do the business.

TheCable learnt that there is public water supply to the school but a reservoir with limited storage.

Common sicknesses among students treated in the school clinic are typhoid and malaria.

EATING IS NO FUN

The students also expressed dissatisfaction with the quality of food served.

When TheCable visited the school’s dining hall, despair was clearly seen on their faces. A female student reportedly collapsed during assembly when she was allegedly denied food for two days — for misplacing her spoon.

“Sometimes, the cook will send a student away and deny him food for the simple reason that the student misplaced his spoon or ticket,” the duty master told TheCable.

“We took the student who collapsed to the clinic and it was discovered that she collapsed because of hunger. She told us that she hadn’t been given food for two days.”

HIGH PTA DUES, POOR BENEFITS

TheCable learnt that an ongoing battle between the parent-teacher association (PTA) and Esther Bose Bamgbala,  the former school principal, has led to the poor maintenance of the school. Bamgbala was said to have suspended the PTA and frozen the account of the association, thus leading to a legal tussle.

She was also alleged to have directed parents not to pay dues to the PTA. As a result, part-time teachers, who are employed by the PTA, couldn’t be paid salaries for 10 months.

Elias Shekarau, chairman of the PTA, who spoke with TheCable, said in spite of the huge amount being spent by parents, there had been no improvement in the welfare of students and provision of facilities.

He disclosed that each parent paid at least N14,000 for the purchase of furniture, but students still sit on the ground in the classrooms.

“We pay N15, 000 per term for boarding, in addition to other charges, yet the students are poorly fed,” he said.

He alleged that instead of giving parents a list of books to purchase, the school collected N12,000 from each parent. Still, the books were not provided.

Shekarau said in order to address the problem of shortage of teachers, the PTA recruited 25 part-time staff comprising 16 teachers and nine non-academics.

The PTA even submitted a petition to the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related Offences Commission (ICPC), to investigate the former principal over allegations of corruption practices.

In the petition signed by Shekarau and dated October 9, 2017, executive members of the association accused the former principal of auctioning some vehicles belonging to the school.

The vehicles, according to the petition include two water tankers, one 45-seater bus, and two 504 Peugeot station wagons. The petition further accused Bamgbala of interfering with activities of the PTA .

‘I’M NOT AWARE OF ANY PETITION’

When TheCable reached her after many attempts, Bamgbala, who sounded harsh on the phone, said she was not aware of any petition against her.

“What are the allegations all about?” she asked. “I have not seen the copy of the petition; it is from you I am hearing this for the first time.”

The former principal said she is a retired officer and directed this newspaper to find things out from the acting principal of the school.

“Just contact the acting principal, please, I am no longer in service,” she said.

She, however, added that when the petition comes, they will respond, noting that the dissolution of the PTA was done by the federal ministry of education.

‘There is no truth in the complaints’

Abdulkadir Abdulrazaq Adeyi, the acting principal of the school, told TheCable that all those who are complaining about lack of teaching facilities were not being truthful.

“Who is saying that? Who has come to complain? Is it the school management or whatever? Left to me, all these things you are saying now, I don’t know. The issue of insecurity has been there since the inception of the school,” he said. “It has been an issue between the college and the community who didn’t want the school to be fenced. I don’t know where these complaints are coming from.”

On students’ poor feeding, Adeyi asked: “Who is saying that the students are not being fed well? Have you come to sample what they are eating? I make sure that the food is in the right quantity and quality. So the feeding that you are talking about is not an issue.”

A further look at the 2017 budget showed that apart from overhead and salary costs, there is a minimal priority given to non-trade/technical matters.

For instance, the purchase of vans had an allocation of N10 million, the purchase of sporting and games equipment N2 million, while the purchase of teaching aids and instructional materials was for as low as N107,022.

Further checks also showed that N2.4 million was earmarked for the purchase of teaching and learning equipment out of N131.7 million appropriated for capital project in the school.

In 2016, the school had budgeted N7.4 million for the same purpose.

But Adeyi denied the lack of equipment in the school.

“The school is trying its best in terms of putting facilities in place to teach technical subjects,” he said, adding that the biology laboratory was recently renovated and equipped.

Everything is okay here, says the principal

‘FAT ENVELOPES’

Meanwhile, many structures constructed by the Catholic missionaries, who were the original owners of the school, are still standing in comparison to other structures constructed much later, which are gradually wearing out.

The department of technology and science education, federal ministry of education had, in 2012, carried out an assessment of equipment and facilities in the 21 federal science and technical colleges visited.

The aim was to identify gaps and recommend appropriate intervention. The results of the assessment had revealed shortfalls in equipment and facilities, but the intervention is yet to be seen, especially in FSTC, Kafanchan.

Chinenye Ihuoma, the director of press at the ministry of education, told TheCable that the ministry is trying to urgently address such challenges through the school’s capital budget for 2017.

“Such areas are part of the prioritised projects of the college. Similarly, the college is further striving to locally intervene in such areas with their limited resources,” she explained.

The school was passed on to the Kaduna state government in 1975 when the military administration of Yakubu Gowon took over missionary schools.

Under the Kaduna state government, the school was a teacher training college until 1990 when the federal government took over the school and turned it into a technical school and later science and technical school.

The college was created with the purpose of equipping the youth with practical skills, ability and attitude as craftsmen/women, technicians and nurture them for self-employment, with a view to deriving the nation’s  quest for technological advancement for global competition.

But the current state of the school requires immediate action, especially in the area of providing the basic equipment for the teaching to technical subject.

The teachers blamed ministry officials for the state of the school. It was alleged that most times when supervisors from the federal ministry of education are sent to inspect the state of facilities and performance of students, the school’s management would not allow them to go round to see things for themselves.

“What happens is that whenever the supervisors come, the school management will  just keep them in the office and give them special treatment and as they are going back, they  are given fat envelopes and  they go and write a fake report at the detriment of the future of the children,” an angry teacher told TheCable.


This is a special investigative project by Cable Newspaper Journalism Foundation (CNJF) in partnership with TheCable, supported by the MacArthur Foundation. Published materials are not the views of the MacArthur Foundation.

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Social Comments

2 Comments

  1. Elflora
    Elflora January 30, 22:36

    Your comment..AL dis cnt b true, cus while I ws schooling dere tins wer a bit OK, although I cnt say very much OK… Bt I enjoyed d school as at den

    Reply to this comment
  2. KinPin
    KinPin August 29, 22:49

    Seeing the present condition of the school is rather appalling. I cant believe this is the same school i graduated from. When are we ever going to have a responsible government that prioritise Education?

    Reply to this comment

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