Some communities from three local government areas of Kaduna State on Tuesday decried the menace of school building collapse and appealed to relevant authorities to ensure proper projects monitoring to avert future occurrence.
The Nigeria News Agency reports that the workshop, which was organised by Centre for Human Rights and Civic Education ((CHRICED), specifically drew education stakeholders from the three local government areas.
NAN also reports that the participants included Parents, Teachers, Headmasters, Principals of Junior Secondary School and School Base Management Committee (SBMC) members, among others.
The stakeholders attributed the recurrence of school building collapse to exclusion of benefitting communities in the monitoring of projects cited in their domain.
They cited an example of a case in Zaria Local Government where a primary school pupil lost his life as a result of building collapse due substandard execution of the project.
The stakeholders appealed to relevant authorities to look into the possibility of making “Contracts Bill of Quantity” available to Headmasters as well as members of SBMC to ensure proper monitoring of projects in their respective areas.
While lamenting that some projects are still abandoned, the stakeholders also complained that some contracts were being carried out without the consent of Education Secretaries (ES), Headmasters or Principals of Junior Secondary Schools.
A cross section of participants at a workshop on the State of Universal Basic Education (UBE) Projects in Kauru, Kubau and Zaria Local Government Areas of Kaduna State held in Zaria on Tuesday.
Responding, the Director, Physical Monitoring, SUBEB, Alhaji Aliyu Makarfi, identified communication gaps between communities, contractors and SUBEB as one of the major constraints.
He advised communities to formally write to their respective Education Secretaries in case of any substandard projects by any contractor, who would transmit same to higher authorities through appropriate channel.
Makarfi therefore advised the communities to forward their complaints to appropriate authorities for proper action toward proffering solution to their respective problems.
He identified lack of space for building of additional classrooms especially in schools located in urban settlements which according to him sometimes force them to transfer project(s) to other schools.
Alhaji Muktar Maude, the Education Secretary, Zaria Local Government, lamented that there was no accountability in the contract execution.
“The best way to ensure accountability and transparency, communities and teachers must be carried along. We are not happy the way contracts just come from above without involving the teachers and the benefitting communities.
“It might interest you to know that a contractor just call a Headmaster and handed over a contract on phone, this is because he has the backing of the top.
“Again, direct release of money to contractors is negatively affecting the quality of contracts and in a way lead to substandard projects,” he said.
Earlier in his remarks, the Executive Director, CHRICED, Dr Ibrahim Zikirullahi, said the NGO was creating platforms for government and governed to interact on development issues faced by ordinary citizens especially those at the grassroots.
Zikirullahi, who was represented by Mr Armsfree Ajanaku, Media Assocaite, CHRICED, said: “This Community Report Back Session will serve as an opportunity for both communities and SUBEB to further report on progress or challenges.
“It will be good to know if any progress has been recorded in addressing the issues identified in the previous engagement on the state of school projects.
“The importance of this session is to ensure we properly document progress being recorded even as we identify the challenges faced in the UBE sector.”
According to Zikirulłahi, it is this spirit of dialogue and accountability that governs the project of “Promotion of Transparency and Accountability in the Education Sector in Kaduna State”.
He described the current SUBEB as a responsive agency that listens to the cries and worries of the populace especially at the grassroots levels.
Edited by: Muhammad Suleiman Tola