By Philip Yatai

Some Civil Society Organisations under the Kaduna Basic Education Accountability Mechanism (KADBEAM) have tracked 44 basic education projects worth N1.3, billion to promote fiscal transparency and accountability in the basic education sector.

The CSOs said that 99 per cent of the projects do not have playing facilities for children’s physical activity and mental development, while only seven of the 44 projects have toilets as component.

Mr Joshua James, Assistant Secretary, KADBEAM, who presented the scorecard, on Tuesday in Zaria, explained that the projects were tracked across 15 local government areas of the state.

James said that the tracking activity was supported by the Partnership to Engage Reform and Learn (LERN), a governance programme being funded by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO).

He explained that the N1.3 billion represents 31 per cent of the N4.3 billion worth of projects awarded in 2021 out of the N8.6 billion earmarked for the year, under 2017, 2018 and 2019 projects.

He said that the findings showed that 69.8 per cent of the projects were ongoing, 14 per cent completed, 9.3 per cent abandoned, while seven per cent had not commenced.

He said that 90 per cent of the projects tracked have no safe spaces that allows students to feel secure, express their views, share, and explore their knowledge, attitudes, and behaviours.

James also said that 95.3 per cent of the projects had no water facility component, even when 53.5 per cent do not have water source, two per cent sources water from streams and 41.9 per cent had boreholes.

On access to school by Persons with Disability (PWDs), James said that 74.4 per cent of the project do not have ramps.

He called on the government to ensure timely releases and cash-backing of allocated funds to complete on-going projects, and provide more gender-sensitive water, sanitation, and hygiene facilities in schools.

According to him, this will improve school attendance among girls and prevent open defecation.

“Government should provide safe spaces in schools to ensure a safe and friendly learning environment for girls. The findings revealed only 7% of safe spaces available in schools.

“The state government should also ensure that school infrastructures at the basic level are inclusive, accessible and friendly to PWDs as findings show 74.4% projects do not have ramps.

“The government should mandate contractors to share relevant contract information with the beneficiaries of the projects, especially information on cost and description of the project for proper community monitoring.

“This will strengthen citizens’ participation and promote fiscal transparency and accountability in the delivery of education projects.”

Mr Aliyu Idris, Director Public Schools, Ministry of Education, commended KADBEAM for organising the meeting for citizens to engage the government with their concerns and for the government to get feedback.  

Idris acknowledged the existence of the identified challenges and promised that the ministry and Kaduna State Universal Basic Education Board was working on improving the delivery of school projects.

He described KADBEAM tracking activities as a blessing towards improving the quality of project delivery.  

“You are contributing to the progress and development of the education sector through continued engagement of the sector and supporting us to improve.

“Kaduna State is operating an open government and I am happy that citizens are engaging the governance process to demand for quality service delivery.

Mr Martins Dangwa, Chairman, Evidence Technical Group, KADBEAM said that the objective of the meeting was to present that scorecard for discussion and to elicit government and stakeholders’ response to some of the concerns.

Dangwa added that the meeting was also organised to strengthen fiscal transparency and accountability in the delivery of basic education projects.

The Co-Chairman, KADBEAM, Mr Tijjani Aliyu, described the mechanism as “a child of necessity” to bring government and citizens to the discussion table for the planning and implementation of basic education programmes.

Aliyu explained that the KADBEAM, with members from civil society, media and government officials was to strengthen citizens participation in delivery of education programmes in line with Open Government Partnership.

PERL’s State Partnership Facilitator, Mr Istifanus Akau, said that PERL would continue to create platforms for citizens and government to discuss issues of governance and service delivery.