How UBEC funded basic education with N503.124b in 15yrs
Established by the Compulsory, Free Universal Basic Education Act 2004, UBEC has the mandate of coordinating implementation of all aspects of the country’s UBE programme. Fifteen years after its set up, its intervention into the basic education subsector has totalled over N503.124 billion from the 2 per cent Federal Government’s Consolidated Revenue Fund, CRF, in addition to sundry special interventions. Godfrey AKON reports:
Since Nigeria commenced spirited efforts to implement its universal basic education programme, fifteen years ago, the country has voted N503, 124,325,426.01 billion to fund public early childhood, primary and junior secondary schools.
With over 109657 public basic schools spread across the 36 states and Abuja, as well as the enormity of challenges bedevilling the subsector, the funds were observably inadequate. However, the sum of N53, 215,729,429.98, representing 22.75 per cent of the total amount remains un-accessed by states till date, contributing to the stumpy impact of basic education delivery in the country.
While a total sum of N449,908,595,996.07 was disbursed to the 36 States and FCT, it has not been established that the funds were able to address the deficit of basic school infrastructures, facilities, personnel and instructional materials in the subsector.
The funds which are the major components through which the Federal Government responds to the delivery of basic education in Nigeria, were released as statutory 2 per cent block grants of the nation’s consolidated revenue fund, CRF, to the Universal Basic Education Commission, UBEC,
They are aimed at developing the basic school system, and perhaps, breaching the 20,000 schools gap the nation requires to provide schools within 2 kilometres for 99.1 per cent of its children between the ages of 5-10 years, among other objectives.
A National Personnel Audit, NPA, report released by UBEC in 2019, reported only a total of 1,108,325 classrooms available in public and private basic education institutions across the country to cater for a population of 40,841,946 children between the ages of 6-11 years. Thus, the reality of overcrowded classrooms and inadequate teachers to attend to the academic needs of pupils still persists.
According to UBEC’s Director of Social Mobilisation, Alhaji Bello Kagara, the sharing formula for the UBE intervention fund was as follows: matching grants to states -50 per cent, educational imbalance-14 per cent, good performance- 5 per cent, physical and mentally challenged fund- 2 per cent, teachers’ professional development fund- 10 per cent and instructional materials fund-15 per cent, all totalling 96 per cent to all states.
Kagara disclosed that the federal government had scrapped the school feeding programme which used to take a chunk of the money from the mandate of UBEC.
While clarifying that primary and secondary school education is under the purview of the state and local governments, which are saddled with the responsibility of building, equipping and maintaining schools and recruiting teachers, he stated that the intervention of the federal government in the subsector was both a constitutional obligation and a response to international protocols charging it to eradicate illiteracy and other forms of educational imbalances.
He noted that that the UBE programme has achieved significant success through its Model School Programme, School-Based Management Committee—School Improvement Programme, SBMC-SIP, and the Open Schooling Initiative in Nigeria.
Kagara raised an alarm that the UBE is threatened by the poor participation of the private sector in funding of education in Nigeria, adding that there are fears that the level of funds being taken away from basic education could further impede its delivery.
Since the enactment of the Compulsory, Free, Universal Basic Education Act, 2005, which established the Universal Basic Education Commission, UBEC, the commission has been saddled with the mandate of coordinating the delivery of unfettered access to compulsory, free and universal basic education to all school going-age children in Nigeria.
UBEC also ensures the provision of access by making sure that all children of school going-age are enrolled and complete basic education, as well as “promotion of quality.
Part of its mandate is to ensure that, “(i) all teachers at basic education level possess the minimum teaching qualification of Nigeria Certificate in Education (NCE) and participate effectively and efficiently in the classroom teaching and learning process. (ii) basic education schools have conducive teaching and learning environment.
“Ensure equity: eliminating gender disparity in basic education, redressing all forms of disadvantages and promoting inclusiveness education.”
Kagara noted that to actualise its mandate, other forms of UBE funds are made available for the commission such as the Special Education Fund Allocation to States, adding that “from 2005 to June 2020, the Commission received the sum of N18,660,499,215.00 as Special Education Fund which was allocated to States on equality basis.
He disclosed that Within the same period, the sum of N15,172,688,398.51 was disbursed to States as Special Education Fund, while the sum of N3,487,810,816.49is the total un-accessed Special Education Fund, SEF, to date.
The UBEC official noted that the commission also received a total sum of N80,875,223,889.05 as Teacher Professional Development Fund, TPDF, which was allocated to States on equality basis, adding that within the same period, the sum of N48,632,392,895.86 was disbursed to states, while the sum of N32,242,830,993.19 remains un-accessed till date.
While speaking further on the interventions of UBEC, he said the commission implemented the first phase of its model school programme in Seven Regional and thirteen state-based schools.
He disclosed that the regional schools were built in Lagos, Imo, Edo, Katsina, Bauchi, Nasarawa States and FCT while the State-based model schools were built in Adamawa, Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Benue, Borno, Cross River, Ebonyi, Ekiti, Kaduna, Kano, Niger, Oyo and Sokoto states.
According to him, a total of N2.7 billion has been disbursed to 2,585 communities nationwide as part of its School-Based Management Committee—School Improvement Programme, SBMC-SIP, aimed at enhancing access equity and quality in basic education delivery in Nigeria, adding the initiative is a tool for reducing the challenge of out-of-school children in the country.
On the federal teachers’ scheme, he said a total of 120,000 teachers were engaged in the scheme and deployed to States to teach in public basic education schools 2006 and 2015, funded from the Millennium Development Goals Debt Relief Gains, adding that there are 5,000 teachers currently engaged under the scheme.
Kagara disclosed that UBEC was also implementing a reintegration programme for out-of-school boys and girls across the country through the provision of vocational schools and a total of 55 all-girls school in designated states.
While speaking on the North East Basic Education Intervention Programme of the commission, he lamented that basic education has come under severe stress following the outbreak of Boko Haram insurgency in the North-eastern part of Nigeria, comprising Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Taraba and Yobe States.
He disclosed that the Minister of Education endorsed UBEC’s Action Plan for implementation with an approved take off grant of N2 Billion, adding that the Commission has since commenced the intervention activities in the North East.
He however highlighted challenges with the delivery of basic education in the country including fund disbursement and utilization, provision of schools’ infrastructure, improvement of teacher quality, supply of instructional materials, advocacy and social mobilization issues and out-of-school children, among others.
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