Federal government has given May, 2013 as the final deadline for the handover of 102 Almajiri schools and 13 Girls' Model Schools to states as part of intervention in the basic education sub-sector.
Contracts for Almajiri schools were awarded by federal government through the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) in 2011 while construction for the model school for girls begun in 2012.
Minister of state for education Barrister Nyesom Wike who ended the first phase of inspection tours to these schools including libraries in Federal Government Colleges (FGCs) for the South-South on Thursday said 66 of the Almajiri schools were ready for handover to states and by May, at least 80 per cent of all the schools would have been completed.
The Minister inspected projects in Federal Science and Technical College Aka-Offot Uyo, Federal Government College Ikot Ekepene, Model Girls Secondary School Ikot Ekang, Abak and Federal Government Girls College Ikot Obio Itong all in Akwa Ibom state.
Wike said, " We have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the states that the schools would start running immediately they are handed over. Part of the agreement is that the states are to employ the teachers and also pay their salaries while federal government as part of its incentives would provide some clothing and free books for the children. So we believe from now till May at least 80 per cent of the schools ought to have been handed over to the states and for even the girls model schools it is not going to federal government we would have to hand it over to the states as junior secondary schools."
The Minister also said contracts had been awarded by UBEC for the furnishing and equipping of e-libraries for Junior Secondary School students in FGCs and the first set would be ready for use by the students in April.
"A contract has been awarded for the equipment of the first set of libraries so we believe hopefully by April some of them would be in use. Each library would have its own generating set, so that students reading would not be interrupted," he said.
Wike attributed the slow pace of work in some of the ongoing library projects in the unity schools in Bayelsa, Cross River and AkwaIbom to communal clashes, delay in the issuance of lands and difficult terrain but said the contractors had assured federal government they would have completed work by April.
He said, "The libraries were the last batch of contracts awarded and they have just started work on them. None of them have been completed but they are not out of time but from what we've seen one is quite satisfied particularly with the model girls school in spite of the challenges with communities because land is not easy these days."
He also said the Federal Ministry of Education would inspect the libraries after they have been fully equipped for use and "any principal who cannot account for any of the books would have him or herself to blame."