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Lagos, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, Rivers, others fail to access N33.6b UBEC funds

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50% of schools in Nigeria lack furniture — UBEC

Failure by some state governors to access the Universal Basic Education Commission’s (UBEC) intervention fund is threatening the future of millions of Nigerian school children.

Findings by The Guardian showed that 26 states and the Federal Capital Territory have failed to access the sum of N33.6bn earmarked for basic education by the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) as at February 2022.

According to the Executive Secretary of the commission, Dr Hamid Bobboyi, each state receives an average of N1.5 billion for funding of basic education from UBEC every year, which adds up to N3 billion with payment of matching grant, but the fund is lying fallow as states fail to access the funds.

Among states owing 2021 counterpart funds are Kwara, Lagos, Niger, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, Rivers, Yobe, Abia, Adamawa, Anambra, Borno, Delta, Ebonyi, Enugu, Imo and Kaduna. UBEC put the unaccessed funds at N18, 746,470,860.16.

Between 2005 and 2021, a total of N528, 678,768,160.60 was paid as counterpart funds by the 36 states and FCT.

The commission noted that between 2005 and 2017, the 36 states and FCT paid all the counterpart funds.

It was, however, noted that in 2018, 35 states and FCT paid the counterpart funds up to the fourth quarter, amounting to N1, 473,832,845.20 each. Ogun State failed to lodge the sum of N491, 267,613.70 as its counterpart funds for the period.

In 2019, the commission noted that 31 states and the FCT lodged their counterpart funds up to the fourth quarter, amounting to N1, 519,884,078.86 each. While Enugu and Niger lodged up to the second quarter, three states, Anambra, Ebonyi and Ogun, did not lodge their 2019 counterpart funds.

The addition of the 2019 figures revealed that the five states owed N6, 534,886,946.10.

For 2020, the commission noted that 25 states, namely Akwa Ibom, Bauchi, Bayelsa, Benue, Borno, Cross River, Edo, Ekiti, Gombe, Imo, Jigawa, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Kogi, Lagos, Nasarawa, Ondo, Oyo, Plateau, Rivers, Sokoto, Taraba, Yobe, Zamfara and FCT lodged their counterpart funds up to the fourth quarter amounting to N715, 074,135.14 each.

Further analysis revealed that 11 states – Abia, Adamawa, Anambra, Delta, Ebonyi, Enugu, Kaduna, Kwara, Niger, Ogun and Osun, owed N715, 074,135.14 each, making the total owed by the states to be N17, 865,815,486.54 in 2020.

For 2021, UBEC noted that only eight states – Bauchi, Benue, Edo, Gombe, Jigawa, Katsina, Nasarawa and Taraba, lodged their counterpart funds up to the fourth quarter by paying N946, 646,664.48 each.

It was also noted that eight states, namely; Bayelsa, Cross River, Ekiti, Kano, Kebbi, Oyo, Sokoto and Zamfara as well as FCT owed counterpart funds for the fourth quarter of 2021, which amounted to a total of N1, 359,505,128.24 at N151, 056,125.36 each.

Plateau State owed counterpart funds for the third and fourth quarters of 2021, which amounted to N348, 325,771.28.

The Chairman, Governing Board, UBEC, Prof Adamu Usman, had accused state governments of abdicating their responsibility of funding basic education. Usman said states did not appear enthusiastic about funding basic education as they had failed to pay their matching grants.

He said: “Primary and junior secondary education is the primary responsibility of local and state governments. Unfortunately, a good number of the states do not appear enthusiastic about funding basic education. As such, they do not always access their matching grants from UBEC.”

Bobboyi lamented poor outcomes in basic education delivery at state levels, despite billions of naira given to them for intervention programmes on annual basis.

“At the end of the day, you start wondering how much of the money and resources going to states and agencies implementing basic education goes down to the level of the classroom and making a difference in teaching and learning?”

The UBEC chief lamented that about 50 per cent of schools lack basic furniture, forcing pupils to sit on the floor to take lessons.

A report by the commission showed that Nigeria currently has a deficit of about 43,456 classrooms, indicating a limited capacity for access across states.

Stakeholders have also observed that these limited classroom spaces have not only contributed to the high number of out-of-school children but accounted for why some still learn under trees and dilapidated buildings.

The report, which is the National Personnel Audit (NPA) conducted by UBEC, revealed that the total number of classrooms required for public schools is 195,484, but the number of available classrooms was 152,028.

“This left a deficit of 43,456 classrooms, meaning that both public and private schools combined, did not have enough classroom spaces for learners, indicating a limited capacity for access,” the report said.

The report further noted that the challenge of classroom deficits was exacerbated by the fact that only 75 per cent of available classrooms were in good condition with the Southeast having the least proportion of good classrooms with 68 per cent compared with the proportion of good classrooms in the other zones ranging between 70 and 80.

The report further indicated that matching the current enrolments with available classrooms showed a national learner-classroom ratio (LCR) of 45 learners to a classroom, indicating some form of overcrowding given the national minimum standard of 40 per cent to a junior secondary classroom.

According to the UBEC boss, out of 2,895 projects awarded in 2020, a total of 939 have been completed as of March 8, out of which 195 were classroom construction and renovation of 54 and 690 supplies.

He added that 1,956 projects involving the construction of 449 classrooms are ongoing, 125 are under renovation and 1,382 are supplies.

Bobboyi lamented that one of the daunting challenges was the insecurity in some states, which is slowing down school construction and sometimes results in the destruction of completed projects or abandonment of projects.

Already, the commission had signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN), to ensure that infrastructure built in public schools across the country is of standard quality.

The Executive Secretary said 50 per cent of allocation to the commission from Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) by the Federal Government for basic education, is disbursed to states for infrastructural development.

He said it was therefore important for UBEC to monitor what is going on to ensure that there is value for money and infrastructure built is safe, could last for long and motivate pupils to learn better.

According to Sections 2(1) and 11(2) of the Compulsory, Free Universal Basic Education Act, “Education is both a human right in itself and an indispensable means of realising other human rights. As an empowerment right, education is the primary vehicle by which economically and socially marginalised adults and children can lift themselves out of poverty and obtain the means to participate fully in their communities.

“States are required to progressively implement socio-economic rights including the right to quality education commensurate with the level of resources available. Gross misallocation of resources to the detriment of the enjoyment of the right to quality education can constitute a human rights violation.”

Basic education has continued to experience a steady decline. The quality of education offered is low and standards have continued to drop.

“The learning environment does not promote effective learning. School facilities are in a state of extreme disrepair, requiring major rehabilitation. Basic teaching and learning resources are generally not available, leaving many teachers profoundly demoralised.”

Reactions from states
In Anambra, UBEC funds were accessed last in 2018

Since the administration of former governors Peter Obi and Willie Obiano, Anambra State had maintained its payment of 50 per cent counterpart funding.

The State Universal Basic Education Commission (ASUBEB) has collaborated with UBEC to ensure that new buildings are built and old ones reconstructed.

However, the last time UBEC counterpart funding was accessed by the state was in 2018.

1,000 projects inaugurated in Lagos in one year

Chairman, Lagos State Universal Basic Education Board (LASUBEB), Mr. Wahab Alawiye-King, said in the last year, over 1,000 school projects were inaugurated ranging from new construction to rehabilitation.

“Successful bidders for the 2019-2020 intervention projects were mobilised to the site in January and to access the 2021 matching grant, the projects have to be at least 75 per cent at the completion stage.

“Nonetheless, we have received our budget envelope for the 2021 intervention budget from UBEC and the state government has made provision for the grant, which has been approved by governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu.

“Our aim is to continue to provide all-inclusive, equitable and quality education in an environment that is comfortable, safe and conducive for learning and teaching. Hence, the need to make infrastructure renewal in our schools a priority,” he said.

Ekiti pays N7.84 billion between 2015 and 2021.

The present administration in Ekiti State has been involved in renovating classrooms, constructing new ones and equipping them with state-of-art facilities

Aside reconstruction of the schools, four models of schools was built in four locations on the outskirts of Ado-Ekiti.

The state government said it has paid N7.8 billion to UBEC as a counterpart fund to enable the state to access N16 billion to develop basic education.

It said the huge investment in education in the last three years had increased enrolment in public primary schools.

For instance, enrolment in public primary schools, which stood at 106,271 in October 2018, had increased to 241,982 in 2021, while public secondary schools jumped from 84,146 in 2018 to 109,140.

The state government clarified that it paid matching grants of over N7.84 billion to UBEC between 2015 and 2021.

However, findings showed that despite allocations to the sub-sector, some schools, especially in rural areas, are still battling derelict infrastructure, most especially those in rural areas.

Classrooms in urban areas were conducive for learning, except few schools that lacked necessary amenities such as a water system, sick bay and functional toilets.

Infrastructure still inadequate in Kaduna

In Kaduna State, schools still suffer inadequate infrastructure with 22,188 classrooms in primary and secondary schools without adequate furniture.

Although infrastructural facelift in the state in the last six years saw the building of classrooms in some highly-populated primary schools, there are still schools where pupils sit on the floor for lessons.

According to the annual school census report 2020, there are 4,489 public primary and pre-primary schools in Kaduna State, with both primary and secondary schools having an enrolment figure of 2,399,179 pupils.

The report said there were 20, 267 usable classrooms in primary schools, while 8,239 are in need of major repairs. It added that 17,056 primary school classrooms are with insufficient seating and 12,010 classrooms without good blackboards.