Strides in tackling challenges of basic education
By Martins Odeh, Nigeria News Agency
Undoubtedly, many years of neglect of basic education had resulted to unimaginable decay of infrastructure and systems failure in the sector.
However, almost all the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) are assiduously deploying resources to improve the situation.
The various interventions were to address the problems of out-of-school children; improve infrastructure; enhance interests in the teaching profession, among others.
UNICEF estimates that 10.5 million Nigerian children are out-of- school, with about 60 per cent of them in Northern Nigeria.
The Federal Government was not oblivious of the infrastructural decay, low school enrolment and importance of basic education, as it established the Universal Basic Education (UBE) in 1999.
The programme is a nine-year basic education strategy to eradicate illiteracy, ignorance and poverty.
Though funding of basic education is the responsibility of the state and local governments, the Federal Government still funds basic education with two per cent of its consolidated revenue fund.
The support from the Federal Government was meant to spur the states to improve the standard of basic education, in order to meet the goals of the defunct Millennium Development Goals (MDG) now replaced with Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).
Kano State, one of the states desirous to upgrade infrastructure and boost enrolment, on Aug. 23 promised to harmonise the almajiri education system into modern academic curriculum.
Gov. Abdullahi Ganduje, announced this in Abuja, during a working visit to the Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu.
The governor said that education should be made free from basic to secondary levels in the interest of the Nigerian child.
“As a government, we have said that basic education and secondary education will be free, we have also made it compulsory to ensure sustainability,’’ he said.
In Kaduna State, the state’s Universal Basic Education Board, on Aug. 22 mobilised 2,000 education stakeholders as part of activities to kick start the 2019 enrolment campaign.
The board’s acting Director, Social Mobilisation, Malam Ibrahim Aminu, said the campaign targeted the enrolment of 727,764 out-of-school children in the state in five years.
Aminu explained that the campaign, which targeted the enrolment of 145,000 pupils in 2019, would be carried out under the World Bank assisted Better Education Service Delivery for All (BESDA).
He said the 2,000 stakeholders, who would serve as enrolment influencers, would be trained to carry out community-based and house-to-house sensitisation campaign on the need to send children to school.
According to him, the programme is to support Universal Basic Education Commission in addressing Pillar One of the Ministerial Strategic Plan that seeks to address the problem of out-of-school children in the country.
Similarly, the Enugu State Universal Basic Education Board (ENSUBEB) on Aug. 21, distributed instructional materials worth N1.4 billion to over 1,000 primary and junior secondary schools in the state.
The Executive Chairman of the board, Chief Ikeje Asogwa, disclosed this when the State House of Assembly Committee on Education visited the board on an oversight function.
Asogwa said that the educational materials were distributed to the schools to improve teaching and learning.
He said the board was also renovating dilapidated buildings and providing desks and sports equipment to schools across the state.
In a similar vein, the Oyo State Government has also promised to educate over 170,000 almajiri.
The state government said it would utilise the three million US dollars World Bank Assisted Better Education Service Delivery for All (BESDA) take-off grant to educate 170, 536 out-of-school children in the 23 local government areas of the state.
Dr Nureni Adeniran, Chairman, Oyo State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB), said the state was committed to boosting enrolment.
The SUBEB chairman reiterated the state government’s resolve to effectively take off the streets, all out-of-school children and put them in public schools.
Also, Prof. Dennis Ityavyar, the Benue Commissioner for Education, on Aug. 15 said the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) had set aside N6.5 billion for the execution of projects under its first and third quarter intervention funds.
Ityavyar made the disclosure in Makurdi, during the launching of the SUBEB’s financial bids opening ceremony for the utilisation of its first and third quarter intervention funds.
Also, the Nasarawa State Government on Aug.15 said over 8, 000 out-of-school children had been re-organised and returned to almajiri schools in Keffi Local Government area of the state.
He also said that the state conducted headcount of the almajiri, adding that 13,000 were registered.
The Plateau State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB), said it was currently executing 581 projects in public primary schools across the 17 local government areas of the state.
Prof. Matthew Sule, the Executive Chairman of the board disclosed this in Shendam, at the inauguration of the Social Mobilisation Intervention Campaign for communities benefitting from projects executed by the board.
It is no gainsaying that basic education is sine qua non to the survival and growth of both secondary and tertiary education and by extension the nation.
Prof. Peter Okebukola, a former Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission (NUC), acknowledged this when he spoke recently at the Lagos State University Faculty of Education, 2019 Distinguished Lecture series.
He said that the authorities must show greater attention to teachers’ preparation, happiness and welfare.
Okebukola also advised the government at various levels to improve funding and close up the huge infrastructure deficit in the sector.
According to him, proper funding of education would ultimately translate to good quality education in the country.
Stakeholders noted that there is always the tendency for older folks to be nostalgic when commentaries are made on the falling standard of education in the country.
They forgot to realise that high standards were maintained yester years because of sustained investment in the education sector.
They said that it was regrettable that a country with its first primary school established in 1843 had allowed this magnitude of rot in the system.
The general neglect of the sector has continually given credence to the series of lamentations on the general falling standard of education in the country.
Consequently, it would not be out of place if the various authorities go beyond rhetoric and the seasonal interventions and declare a state of emergency in the sector, in order to address the challenges without further delay. (Features)