The Executive Secretary of the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), Dr Hamid Bobboyi, has disclosed that the Federal Government allocates over N100 billion annually to support the implementation of Universal Basic Education (UBE) in the country.
Bobboyi also revealed that Nigeria currently has over 45 million children enrolled in basic education schools nationwide.
He made this known at a one-day meeting on promoting partnership with the Organised Private Sector in Abuja, where he called on the private sector to invest more in education while supporting the efforts of the Federal Government to salvage the basic education sector in Nigeria.
He listed some of the challenges besetting the sector, including limited funding, overcrowded classrooms, inadequate instructional materials, inadequate facilities, low implementation capacity at state and community levels, insufficient time for training and planning, gaps in schools’ and communities’ awareness of interventions, and growing demand for quality education. These hurdles demand innovative solutions.
The UBEC boss lamented that school attendance had been very low over the decades, resulting in many out-of-school children, stressing that “education for all is the responsibility of all.”
He noted that despite allocating over N100 billion to education every year, resources from the Federal Government alone can no longer run the system.
Bobboyi explained that the federal government’s funding for basic education comes from the Consolidated Revenue Fund, which is disbursed annually by UBEC in the form of a matching grant, where states pay counterpart funds to access the development of infrastructure. UBEC supplies instructional materials to schools, teacher training, and development.
According to him, even though the Federal Government is spending money on education, the sector requires more resources to deliver functional and quality education to children in the country.
The UBEC boss called on the private sector to appreciate the importance of providing education for children at an early age to contribute to the development of the country.
“Resources alone from the federal government cannot run the system. Nigeria has over 45 million children in the basic education subsector, and with this number, we require the necessary classrooms.
“A state may get a maximum of maybe N3 billion in the best times, but N3 billion cannot take care of these. It needs instructional materials; you need many other things,” he said.
While stating that education is the foundation of the collective existence of Nigerians, Boboyyi noted that if the country neglects education, there would be dire consequences.
On the objective of the meeting, he said the commission is bringing together key stakeholders to have a functional relationship with the private sector, in which the sector understands its activities and challenges in the basic education subsector.
“The UBE Act emphasizes active partnerships and collaborations between all stakeholders for efficient basic education service delivery.
“This places an obligation on the Commission and necessitates engagements with the private sector, development partners, donor agencies, civil societies, and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs).
“As we convene to deliberate on ways to strengthen the implementation of this crucial initiative, we acknowledge the fact that program implementation collaboration is not just desirable but imperative for its success,” he stated.
Bobboyi also lamented that there has been a 29 percent reduction in the number of teachers in Nigeria’s basic school system following the COVID-19 crisis.
According to him, “Unless we can pay our teachers, compensate them properly, and motivate them, it is very difficult to deliver the kind of education that we all dream of.”
He noted that part of the interface with the organised private sector is to work out a program that could benefit the development of basic education in Nigeria in the areas of quality, expanding access, and funding while ensuring equity for the physically challenged.
He said: “A few of such support and prospects are in the following areas: funding support, technical assistance, provision of UBE infrastructure, instructional materials, introduction and integration of ICT into the UBE program, addressing access disparities, institution of other reforms that target quality and relevance of the UBE program, among others.
“As you may be aware, private sector participation in basic education delivery can be a catalyst for expanding access and ensuring quality in service provision, especially to vulnerable groups or those who ordinarily would be denied such legitimate rights,” he said.
He also called on stakeholders to invest in the smart school initiative to build the technological capacity of the young population.
On her part, the Head of the Oando Foundation, Mrs Adegoke Adekanla, commended UBEC for its commitment towards advancing basic education in the country.
Adekanla said the commitment of the Oando Foundation also aligns with the broader initiative to strengthen the Universal Basic Education, UBE, program through collaborative partnerships between the public and private sectors.
Represented by an official of the foundation, Mr Ede Okechukwu, she stressed that “Basic education forms the foundation upon which all other forms of learning and development rest. It is the fundamental right of every child and the cornerstone of a prosperous and equitable society. Access to quality basic education is not just a goal; it is a moral imperative that shapes the future of nations.
“The involvement of the private sector, as emphasized by UBEC, is instrumental in enhancing the pool of resources for UBE implementation. This collaboration is an acknowledgement of the unique strengths and capabilities that non-state actors bring to the table and a testament to the recognition that effective partnerships are indispensable for achieving better results in development initiatives, in line with Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 17.
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