On November 17, 2023, a team from HipCity engaged in an advocacy visit to the Education Secretariat in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). The primary concerns raised during the dialogue included the alleged marginalization of original inhabitants in the education sharing formula and employment, as well as the deteriorating condition of some school structures. The objective was to gain insights into the government’s initiatives aimed at enhancing the educational system within the original inhabitants’ communities of the FCT.
Mr. Bassey Bassey, the Executive Director of HipCity, expressed dismay over the insufficient number of school teachers and the perceived exclusion of indigenous inhabitants from employment opportunities. He highlighted the deplorable state of school infrastructure, particularly those located outside the central area, emphasizing issues such as poor water, sanitation, and hygiene facilities. Additionally, he pointed out instances of students conducting classes in Gwagwalada LGA under inadequate conditions, including studying under trees.
Another pressing concern raised by Mr. Bassey was the imposition of a mandatory admission fee of Twenty-Five Thousand Naira (#25,000.00) for junior secondary school, contradicting the government’s free education policy. He urged the directors to address communication gaps to better convey government activities to the public.
In response, the directors refuted the claims of marginalization, asserting that original inhabitants have been included in employment and educational benefits. They attributed the challenges to the communities’ rejection of government initiatives and acts of sabotage.
Acting Director Human Resource, Ogunnira Akinkumi, clarified that the media had spread false perceptions, stating that concessions for FCTA aborigens were consistently granted. He promised an increase in the percentage of employment opportunities allocated to them.
The Director Scholarship Board, Mrs. Hannah David, presented data indicating that 80% of scholarships are awarded to indigenes, with the remaining 20% allocated to indigents. Scholarships for studying abroad are exclusively for both indigene and non-indigenes. She highlighted fluctuations in the number of scholarships awarded between 2011 and 2022 based on available funding.
Director Mass Education, Mrs. Hajarat T. Alayande, noted that all staff in Abaji are indigenes, but she highlighted the challenge of community ignorance and a preference for monetary gains over education. She appealed for support from civil society organizations.
The Secretary for Education, Dr. Danlami Hayyo, responded to the issues raised by HipCity. He justified rotatory learning sessions, citing their commonality in the Northern part of Nigeria. Dr. Hayyo attributed dilapidated structures and a lackadaisical attitude towards education to insecurity challenges, forced migration, and overcrowded schools. He emphasized the importance of ensuring qualitative education rather than the physical setting, pledging to address exorbitant charges and communication gaps. The education secretary acknowledged the need for sensitization to effectively communicate government efforts in the sector.