Nigeria to review Basic Education counterpart fund

By Temitope Mustapha, Abuja

The Nigerian government is set to review the percentage of counterpart fund payable to the Universal Basic Education Commission, UBEC for the development of Basic Education in Nigeria.

Over N64.8billion government’s grant to the States through UBEC is yet to be accessed following the inability of many States to pay the requisite 50 per cent counterpart fund UBE Act 2004.

Executive Secretary of UBEC, Dr Hamid Bobboyi, stated this in Abuja during an interactive session with executive chairmen of State Universal Basic Education Boards (SUBEB).

He said there might be possible downward review of the percentage of the counterpart fund.

“Before I came, the Federal Ministry of Education with relevant agencies have been doing quite a lot to ensure that the funds that have been lying idle are accessed by the states. Well, there are two parties involved and we should understand that the major reason for us keeping the money as stipulated in the UBEC Act 2004, is to build sufficient resources for the development of basic education.

Policy changes
“Unfortunately, because of economic factor and even before the economic crisis, some states have not really taken basic education seriously.

“However, there might be need to change the UBEC Act that will facilitate may be institution of lower percentage of the matching grant to enable large number of states facing difficulties now to access the fund,” he said.

Bobboyi, however, said the initial efforts would be to let the state governments understand the need for the matching grant and subsequently see what could be done in terms of policy changes in relation with the UBEC law.

He called on all stakeholders and managers of basic education institutions to work collectively in the efforts to overcome the daunting challenges facing basic education implementation in Nigeria.

He said the Nigerian government is greatly worried by the over 10.5 million out-of-school children and that concerted efforts must be made to provide educational opportunities to a Nigeria child.

He also expressed concern about the poor quality of teachers in the country, stating that the Commission would give the issue of teacher training and professional development seriously.

“We must also lay emphasis on inclusive educational system which takes care of the physically challenged as well as those who for one reason or the other have impeded access to basic education,” he said.