As Nigeria's education sector continues to experience a decline in standard and quality of infrastructure, the Executive Secretary, Universal Basic Education Commission, UBEC, Dr Hamid Bobboyi has said the most worrisome issue was the out-of-school children phenomenon.
He said: "The most worrisome issue is the out-of-school children phenomenon as the figures range from 8.7m to 13.5m pupils, the highest in the world." He lamented that in the North-East and the North-West 58% and 51% of their children respectively never attended school or attend only quranic schools.Bobboyi who described the trend as a challenge during a stakeholders round table in Lagos organised by Oando Foundation, pointed out that the Almajiri, migrant communities, the girl-child predicament, Boko Haram and killer herdsmen helped to increase the figure of out-of-school children.He lamented the learning crisis in the North-West and North-East where pupils would be in school but little learning is taking place.
Using the Kaduna State saga as a reference point, Bobboyi said in many schools across the country, there's a dearth of qualified teachers adding that in many states, teaching is seen as a last resort while political thuggery and pre-service training without teaching practice and service without mentorship is rife. Other challenges to basic education, he said, include "Misalignment of actions and actors within the basic education sub-sector; poor feedback mechanism and feeble efforts to build and sustain evidence-based actions."
In his presentation on The Imperatives of the Organised Private Sector support in the development of basic education in Nigeria, he said "it's imperative to learn from the Korean Republic about how the universalisation of qualitative basic education provided the foundation of its socio-economic and individual growth and development" adding that UBE should ordinarily cover Early Childhood Care Development and Education, ECCDE, primary schools and Junior Secondary Schools.According to him, the UBE target is to attain 100 per cent of school age children attending and completing formal education and possessing literacy,numeracy and basic life skills so as to live meaningfully in society and contribute to national development.
On quality, he said "100 per cent of basic education teachers should possess the Nigeria Certificate in Education (NCE) and 100 per cent of basic education schools should be equipped with conducive teaching and learning environment" just as he noted that to ensure equity in UBE, the targets are to eliminate gender disparity in basic education delivery; address all forms of disadvantages as well as promoting inclusive education.On funding arrangement, the Executive Secretary emphasized the imperative of the disbursement of 2% of Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF), matching grants of 50% to states, allowance for education imbalance 14%, good performance 5%, physically and mentally challenged 2%, UBE implementation 2%,UBE monitoring 2%, instructional materials 15% and teacher professional development 10%.
While appreciating the efforts of public-private partnerships, he noted that lack of quality education, especially at basic education level affects the quality of services and products of the private sector adding that poor quality education also affects internal organizational stability of firms and retards their progress.Besides, Mrs Adekanla Adegoke while speaking for the Oando Foundation shared her experience and explained what led to the Foundation's round table with top UBEC staff and other stakeholders.After observing many lapses in basic education in the course of going round schools in the states, she said: "The roundtable with UBEC would improve access to basic education and enhance quality across the country adding that "the overall objective of the round table is to create a network of private sector leaders within the basic education space on method and techniques for supporting basic education through partnership with the UBEC in Nigeria." This network, she added "would serve as a platform for further engagement of UBEC and private sector players".
Furthermore she said "It's imperative that private sector actors and affiliates come together with a unified front so we can assist the government in achieving its goal as entrenched in the Sustainable Development Goals 4 and 17. We understand that although basic education is government's statutory responsibility all actors must provide support where necessary.Today, our challenge is much greater than simply enrolling young people into classrooms. It is determining the most efficient distribution of resources to keep them in school and ensure that they receive quality education necessary for future economic empowerment and life-long learning.The Foundation in collaboration with the Universal Basic Education Commission will explore opportunities for increased private sector participation in basic education delivery".