By Joseph Erunke
ABUJA—THE ongoing recession in the country has taken a heavy toll on states, to the extent that they can longer pay their counterpart funds with Universal Basic Education Commission, UBEC.Recession
To this end, they have abandoned N37 billion in the vaults of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, in the last two years.
The amount, according to UBEC Executive Secretary, Hamid Bobboyi, during an interactive session with newsmen in Abuja, yesterday, is only to be collected by states after fulfilling their counterpart funding mandate with the commission.
But seven states, including Katsina, Bauchi, Rivers, Borno, Jigawa, Kaduna and Sokoto, are exempted as they fully accessed their funds between 2015 and 2017, being the period under review.
Following the development, which came even with increasing number of out-of-school children in the country, Bobboyi has begged the states to show up with their counterpart funds to access their funds.
According to him, it is only by so doing that the country’s education can be repositioned in line with the dreams of the present administration.
While expressing regret over the development, the UBEC boss explained that the states were merely to pay the counterpart funds while the Federal Government, on its part, provides matching grants.
He said: “The quarterly meeting with the States Universal Basic Education Boards, SUBEB, chairmen has provided an avenue for deliberating on the best way of addressing this challenge.
“It must be noted that most of the SUBEB chairmen rely on their governments to pay the counterpart funds. Many SUBEB chairmen indicated that due to recession, many state governments have not been able to raise these counterpart funds.”
As part of efforts to enhance the country’s education sector, Bobboyi disclosed that arrangements had reached advanced stage to establish model schools in all local government areas in the country.
He said: “We feel strongly about this and we have started the process; we need the kind of model schools that will meet international standards. Our hope is that we keep on building these schools to reduce the difficulty of teacher quality.”
He added that for a school to be qualified as a model school, teams would evaluate these schools and ensure that the teacher quality and classroom ratio was right, “he said.
While calling for more learning assessment in basic education in the country to improve educational quality, Bobboyi explained that by September, the commission would have an assessment to know the standard of each basic education subject within the school system.
He also stressed the need to address the backlog of teachers’ salaries and allowances.
He said:”If the teachers cannot teach in the classrooms then of what use is the infrastructures. So basic education stakeholders must address this issue to ensure we have quality teacher.”
Recall that in In 2016, only two states, Borno and Rivers states received their shares of the intervention funds while only 18 out of the 36 states of the federation and the FCT accessed the UBEC matching grant in 2015.
Within the period , Abia, Ebonyi and Niger states top the list of states that did not access their funds in 2012.
Each of the three states has N1,945,214,679.12, N4,019,949,599.42 and N2,876,081,082.46 respectively lying fallow with the apex bank as intervention funds between 2011 and 2016. The figures were as at March 2017.