The boys and girls of Basic 2B in Kaduna Capital School appear hyperactive to any onlooker, and often times, stress their teacher into speaking more than the usual to quieten or control them. One of the young pupils in the class of 55 is six-year-old Abubakar Al-Sadiq El-Rufai; the son of Governor Nasiru El-Rufai of Kaduna State. Like his classmates, Abubakar appeared quite a handful, teasing other classmates, moving from desk to desk and making funny faces at his friends. On sighting Daily Trust Saturday cameras, he amusingly beckoned his classmates to strike a pose, and they did.
In 2017, the Kaduna State governor, El-Rufai, promised to enrol his son in a state public school as soon as he turned six. This promise came to fruition about seven months ago when the Governor walked beside his wife, Ummi El-Rufai, to take his son, Abubakar, to Kaduna Capital School, one of the oldest government schools in northern Nigeria.
The decision had been part of the state government’s reform to revamp the education sector by making public schools more attractive and competitive. Giving reasons for his actions, El-Rufai had in 2019 said; “We are determined to fix public education and raise their standards so that private education will become only a luxury. I went to a public school that was not as good as this but here I am because of the quality of the teaching I got.”
However, in the world of pupils of Basic 2B, Grace Gagara, their teacher says due to the presence of the Governor’s son, other children from the elitist class in Kaduna have been enrolled in the school. Grace described Abubakar’s behaviour among his classmates and teachers as outstanding, adding that he’s had a solid educational background and is one of the most punctual students to school.
She said the six-year-old topped the class in his first term and has continued to improve his performance in the second term. “He relates very well with his classmates and he is friendly with them. He is an extrovert; active in every activity engaged in the class,” she said.
When asked about his perceived restlessness, with a smile, the teacher said; “such attitude is found in every child, a child will always be a child irrespective of his/her background.”
“Whenever he will be absent, from school, the parents will call to notify the school but most times he is present. He has adapted so well that I don’t think he misses his old school,” she said.
The Grade 2B teacher said his performance in class has served as motivation to other students, adding that, “he motivates them to read and write. Sometimes when they look at his handwriting, it encourages them. They feel if he can do it, they can also do the same,” she said.
During class hours, shortly after the school break time, our correspondents observed as Abubakar, dressed in his red sportswear shared his Quantitative Reasoning textbook with two other classmates who share a desk with him. Like other pupils in class, his school bag was seen tossed to the floor just beneath his desk.
The school Principal, Malam Ibrahim Yunusa explained to Daily Trust Saturday that he had been impressed by Abubakar’s punctuality as well as how quickly he adapted to the surroundings and staff and students.
“He mingles with everyone freely, the boy is like his father; he is sociable and has never caused any form of nuisance to the school. He cooperates with his teachers and follows the rules and regulations of the school. So far, he has been good in maintaining them,” he said.
The Principal praised the Governor for taking what he described as a bold decision adding that because of his action, “many people including those from the elite class have felt encouraged and wanted their children to sit side by side with the governor’s son.”
“We are happy that the governor has identified Capital School, a public school, to enrol his child. His enrolment has resulted in many students seeking admission to the school. Those we could admit, we took them according to the slots we had. For now, we have closed admission till next session,” he said.
The school has a nursery, primary, junior and senior secondary sections with over 3000 pupils and is said to be one of the oldest schools in Northern Nigeria. Constructed in 1957 under colonial rule, the school was the idea of the then Premier of Northern Nigeria, Sir Ahmadu Bello, created to cater for the children of top-ranking government officials from Northern Nigeria while they attended to matters of governance in Lagos.
The Principal said the school was initially constructed as a boarding primary school for top ranking elites to leave their children in the North, adding that; “Though, at that time the school was administered by the British, it allowed the children to grow up knowing the northern culture and religion and as time went by, succeeding administrators upheld the principles.”
By enrolling his child in the school, El-Rufai could be said to be beckoning Kaduna elites to do the same for their children even though he said last year that he could only urge all senior public servants in the state to enrol their children in public schools as the law does not allow him to force them to do so.
For now, there is a sense of pride for the management and teachers of Kaduna Capital School who expressed joy that their school had been selected by the governor. “We are grateful that Malam Nasiru El-Rufai identified with Capital School and for giving the school and others a face-lift. For now, we are comfortable with what the governor is doing in all schools in the state,” said the Principal. (Daily Trust)