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UK programme, KDSG develop policy to guide operations of private schools

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UK programme, KDSG develop policy to guide operations of private schools

The Partnership for Learning for All in Nigeria (PLANE) programme is supporting Kaduna State Government to develop a policy to guide the operations and contribution of private schools in the state.

PLANE is a seven-year education programme funded by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) out to invest in a more inclusive and effective education system in Nigeria.

Mr Sunny Kulutuye, the PLANE consultant, explained at the end of a two-day consultative meeting in Kaduna on Thursday that the policy development was a response to a request by the Kaduna State Schools Quality Assurance Authority (KSSQAA).

Kulutuye said that the move was to enable the authority to adequately regulate the operations of private schools, which became necessary due to identified gaps and the challenges the government faced working with owners.

He explained that the meeting was to introduce the concept of the policy and mobilise critical stakeholders to take ownership and be part of the development process.

He said that the meeting was also organised to set up a committee that would help in driving the policy development process and come up with a draft document for further discussion.

Dr James Fadokun, Technical Lead on Governance of Non-state Systems, PLANE, said that the consultative meeting was to facilitate a public-private dialogue to reflect on existing policy guidelines for private schools in the state.

Fadokun said that dialogue would create co-creation opportunities for the state government and private school owners to dialogue on the way forward.

“This will create an inclusive policy that will ensure effective regulation for private schools and effective public-private partnership where the state government and private school owners improve the education landscape forward.

“This will also create opportunities for private school owners to know what to do and how to align whatever service they are delivering to fall in line with the government policy,” he said.

He said that the policy would look at the market space for private schools and how the government could regulate it by providing an enabling environment through ease of doing business for them to operate.

He added that the policy framework would also create opportunities for private school owners to access financial support in the form of loans from financial institutions to improve the quality of delivery.

This, according to him, will ensure that the private school owners are able to meet up with some of the government’s minimum requirements to operate.

On policy implementation, Fadokun said that an Implementation Strategy and Monitoring and Evaluation Framework would also be developed.

He said it was not just about formulating policy, it was also about creating strategies to implement the policy.

The PLANE State Team Lead, Mrs Diana Agabi, said that the measure was very crucial considering that private schools have been left out of most donors’ support programmes in the country.

According to her, private schools play a major role in the educational development in the country, pointing out that about 40 to 50 per cent of school-age children attend private schools.

“It is, therefore, critical for the government to understand what they are doing and they also need to understand the stand of the government and how to engage.

“Majorly what we see is the controversy between the government and the private schools that are being seen solely as business enterprises and not adding value to the society.

“The government needs to see private schools as a sector that is adding value to the education sector and contributing to nation-building and not as business enterprises.”

She expressed optimism that the State Executive Council would approve the policy when developed to guide the engagement between the government and the private school.

Hajiya Adama Wada, Acting Director-General, KSSQAA, assured PLANE that the policy, when developed, would be approved and implemented.

Wada thanked PLANE for the support and promised that the authority would play the expected role throughout the development and implementation of the policy.

Mr Ja’afaru Riyoji, Chairman, National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools, Kaduna State Chapter, described the step as a “welcome development”, and expressed readiness to support the process.

On her part, Mrs Hadiza Umar, Citizen’s Co-chair, Open Government Partnership, lauded the process which she said was very inclusive and participatory by all relevant stakeholders.

“This is very commendable because the process will make the policy everybody’s policy and whatever that goes into the policy will be owned by everyone,” she said.

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