Government Science and Technical School, better known as Bukuru Technical College, BUTEC, was founded in 1953 to provide technical education to Nigerians in its immediate neighbourhood. Over the 55 years of its existence it has made a remarkable contribution to the industrial manpower needs of the nation. It achieved this through the training of its students in the areas of Agricultural Mechanization, Plumbing, Motor Vehicle Mechanic, Electrical Installation and Carpentry/Joinery. The other areas include Furniture Making, Mechanical Engineering Practice, Radio/Television, Refrigeration/Air Conditioning, Fabrication/Welding and Block Laying (Building). In addition to these areas, there is also the General Studies Department that handles English, Mathematics, Chemistry, Physics, Biology and Economics.
After independence in 1960 Nigeria enjoyed good leadership and economic prosperity for a very long time before things started falling out of place. Education is one area in the Nigerian nation that suffered a remarkable neglect. BUTEC as an institution of learning was no exception. A developing nation like Nigeria can only grow rapidly and steadily only with a good industrial revolution. It was against this backdrop that BUTEC was founded. Mr. Emmanuel Gokir who passed out of the school in 1980 is now the fourteenth principal of the school. He is of the opinion that there is a drastic decline of nearly everything in the school when compared to what it was in 1980.
According to the Principal the problems of his school are manifold. First the physical structures have neither been maintained nor expanded. It is a school that was designed to accommodate 300 students at most but now accommodates 1200. There is also the problem of machines used in the different workshops of the school. Not all of these machines are functional despite the fact that student population has quadrupled. Since the machines are now obsolete one cannot find the spare parts anywhere around the world. The solution to the problem is just to buy modern ones. There was the problem of feeding the 1200 mouths for an average of 45 weeks per annum.
Addressing the Problems
Some of these problems are within the ambits of the financial resources of the school especially with the PTA intervention. The school has successfully built a fence on the front side of the school. The back fence is at 50% level of completion. The PTA has also helped in drilling boreholes and the water problem of the school is now a bygone issue. Another problem was the problem of blocked toilets that compelled students to give themselves away to the menace of dangerous reptiles in the bush. The hostel floors also needed attention and hostel windows had to be covered with drapes of polythene bags. These problems, to a large extent have been taken care of through financial support of the PTA.
Gokir also touched on the issue of discipline as one cannot talk about youth training completely without addressing it. He says the problem of gun manufacturing by students of the school was a big problem when it came to the attention of the school authorities. It is a problem that supports crimes and crisis in the community. That is a problem that the authorities have successfully stamped out by becoming critically watchful. The school has also worked hard to regulate student movement in and out of the school by introducing the use of compound wears. As a matter of fact letters were sent to parents to ensure students don’t resume in January with anything other than their conventional uniforms, coveralls and the compound wears. When that happens there is no way a student can go out without been identified and it helps in minimizing or stamping out student involvement in unpleasant rackets in the immediate community.
The cheapest machine used in the school cost nothing les than N500, 000.00 and the most expensive run into millions of naira. This is above the financial strength of the school and the PTA. It will take the intervention of the State and perhaps the Federal Governments to replace these machines he says.
The Role of the State Government so Far
The problems of the school have dampened the hope of well meaning persons in the school and the state that respect the role the school had played since its creation. Gokir however commended the state government of Da Jonah Jang and Pauline Tallen for living up to the strong decision to transform the education portfolio of the state. The last time his school received an allocation for conducting the National Business and Technical Examination Board (NABTEB) exams was in 1998. The present government has resumed this financial allocation last year after ten dry years. The government has also resumed the disbursement of meal subsidies to all public boarding schools across the state and this has buried the thorny issue of how to provide good meals to students in these schools. Gokir says he now has enough food in the store to feed the students for the next six weeks and in good quality and quantity. It wasn’t like that before. The steady payments of salaries has also helped as it has become the reason why teachers now concentrate on their primary duties of teaching without interruption as it was before the coming of the Jang Administration.
Following the visits of the Deputy Governor and Commissioner of Education Mrs. Pauline Tallen to BUTEC early last year, the government made promises regarding certain renovations. So far contractors have undertaken an evaluation of some of these areas yearning for attention. He is confident that work will soon commence following what he has seen of the administration so far.
Sometimes in the past the position of the Principal of the school became a piece of item, dedicated to rewarding political loyalists. The action of the government at the time tore the moral of the staff into pieces. Every teaching staff aspires to becoming a Principal one-day and when appointments to the school are made from within the staff get the assurances that their dreams stand a good chance of getting fulfilled one day. When authorities are appointed from within the school it also rules out chances of insubordination. Further more such appointments enhance administrative efficiency, as the appointed people are conversant with the problems of the institution. Following his appointment as the Principal of the School alongside the Vice Principals Administration and Academic and the Dean of Studies all from within the school, Gokir says he has perceived a general sense of satisfaction among his staff as he has not seen or heard of any expression of disaffection whatsoever. These things have raised his hope and those of his staff and as such he believes the government will live up to its promises on education. He is hence full of praises to the administrative duo of Jang and Tallen.