You Simply Have to Prioritise Basic Education By Making More Funds Available, Osinbajo Tells State Governments

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has called on state governments to prioritise basic education by making funds available.

He also said the state government will partner with the Federal Government to enable them to access the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) funds that will enable them (states) to build schools and equip them appropriately.

Speaking in Abuja during the 2019 Nigeria Annual Education Conference with the theme: “Education for sustainable livelihoods: A systems approach to strengthening the sector for productivity and global competitiveness”, the Vice President said the federal government had made arrangements to support the states by budgeting N112.47 billion for UBEC.

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At the conference was organised by the Federal Ministry of Education in collaboration with the British Council and other development partners,  Osinbajo noted that the role of the Federal Government in the first nine years of a child’s life was minimal as this was the constitutional role and responsibility of both states and local governments. This he said will be ensured when “states simply have to prioritize basic education by making more funding available.

“Every person must have basic education at the very least. It is an existential issue. It is about the future of the citizens of every state.

“However, the Federal Government considers that it has crucial roles to play, especially to guide, inspire, coordinate, co-fund and complement the basic education strategy. And this must be so as this is important in the human capital development outcomes of the country.

“Fortunately, we already have arrangements to support state governments in this area through the funds made available to UBEC as a first line charge in the budget. The budgeted amount for UBEC in 2019 was N112.47 billion.

“As the Hon minister (of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu) has said, we will be working closely with states to enable them to access UBEC funds so as to build schools and equip them appropriately. Improving access and amount of funding by reviewing the process and conditionalities for accessing UBE Intervention Funds by states and Federal Capital Territory (FCT) with the aim of increasing accountability is certain to generate a near term impact.

“Some of the states of the federation that have shown full or near-full access to UBE-Intervention Funds have shown progress in infrastructure, teacher development and teaching materials.”

He, however, pointed out that the federal government must also find creative ways of dealing with the huge problem of out-of-school children.

There exist 10,193,918 out-of-school kids based on the 2018 National Personnel Audit for primary school.

While noting the rise in school enrolment across the 33 states where the Home Grown School Feeding Programme of the federal government is being implemented, Osinbajo said the government must find the resources to build additional classrooms across the country so that children can learn in optimal conditions.

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“We must continue to find creative ways of dealing with the huge problem of out-of-school children. We have seen an almost 40% rise in school enrollment in schools across the 33 States where the Federal Governments Home Grown School Feeding Programme is being implemented, has led to overcrowding of classrooms which creates another set of problems with regard to school infrastructure and the ability of children to learn in such conditions.

“What our latest figures show is that we have 22.4m children in 406,000 classrooms in public primary schools in Nigeria. This is about 55 children in a classroom which almost double the accepted standard of 30 children per class. This means that we will just have to find the resources to build additional classrooms across the country so that children (can learn in optimal conditions.

“It is evident that even with the best of effort, given resource constraints and our population growth rate of 2.6%, we will just have to think out of the box especially using technology and digital means to reach a growing number of children.

“This will also place a huge demand on resources both at the national level of ensuring wider broadband coverage and also at the school level in terms of the availability of computers,” he said.

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