The Universal Basic Education Commission, UBEC, was established to implement and monitor the federel government basic education programme.. To facilitate the programmes in the states UBEC boards were established in each state in Nigeria.
The law requires that intervention funds are sent directly to the SUBEBs to implement projects in primary and secondary schools.Recently the minister of state for education Nyesom Wike had cause to doubt the commitment of some SUBEBs to faithfully implement the pragramme in their states. DAVID AUDU reports on the minister’s frustration.
THE Minister of State for Education, Nyesom Wike has accused State Universal Basic Education Board Chairmen for the slow rate of implementation of the federal government Basic Education programme across the country.
Wike who lamented that while the federal government is committed to improving standards of basic education, state SUBEBS that are responsible for the implementation of the programme are frustrating it by refusing to use the funds released to them for the intended purpose, and sometime witholding the fund from the knowledge of their state authorities and governors.
Wike said every year the federal government disburses nothing less than five billion naira to each of the 36 states, including, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, for improving infrastructure, training and re-training of teachers at this level of education.
He said though education at this level is mainly the responsibility of the states and local government, the federal government in its desires to make quality education available and accessible to every Nigerian child is providing this intervention fund, but lamented that SUBEB is sabotaging the efforts.
It is either the money given to them are not released on time to execute projects or are not released at all, and the same people go to their state government to beg for fund to execute basic education projects.
I have also discovered that when the federal government releases these intervention funds to chairmen of SUBEBs they will not deem it appropriate to inform the Commissioners of Education onward to the governors. In most states the governors are even not aware that the federal government is giving them money.
Wike who spoke on a television programme recently said that by law the federal government is not allowed to give the money directly to the state government, and therefore stressed that until the law establishing SUBEB is amended, UBE programme may not achieve its desire results.
Hear him: "I can tell you that F G spends not less than five billion naira every year in the training and re-training of teachers. I can also give you an example of a state. I have told you that this job does not require you to sit in your office, you must go out and see things for yourself.
“You can't believe what happened 'recently' and the governor of Akwa Ibom was shocked. When I paid him a curtesy call, I said in this year we have released fund for the training and re-training of your teachers, last year we released so so amount for the same purpose. He was jolted, and he looked left and right, and he said can I repeat what I have just said.
By the time I finished, he asked for the SUBEB person and somebody got up. And I asked, did the federal government send money last year for training? He said, yes; did the federal government send money this year for training? He said, yes. Where is the money, I asked?
“The law does not allow us to disburse directly to the coffers of state government. The law says this money must be paid into the accounts of SUBEBS, whose officials are appointees of state government.
“This is a sabotage against the efforts of the federal government.
“And the Akwa Ibom Governor said he can't believe that the federal government has been sending money for the training of teachers and you can't tell even the commissioner of education".
Wike explained further that all the while the state government has been funding the training and re-training of teachers.
Dr. Godswill Akpabio said through the office of the Head of Service that teachers are being trained, and he said this would be an eye opener for most of the state governors.
The minister also disclosed that when he visited the former governor of Bayelsa State, Sylva, and told him that the federal govern-ment had released N150 million for the train-ing of teachers for the year, he was sur-prised and called for the state SUBEB chair-man and asked: "when did F G release this money, three months ago", the chairman an-swered. Three months ago and I am not aware, and the commissioner for education is also not aware", the governor was angry, the minister said.
“Wike explained that the law requires that this money must not be given directly to the governors, that it must pass through the state UBEC, it is their responsibility to inform the appropriate organ of the state executive for them to be aware that the fed-eral government has sent some money for the training of teachers in their state.
Now if our efforts are not being comple-mented, if there is no commitment that these funds are being utilised for the purpose it has been given, what happens? he asked.
He lamented that if one look at the com-mitment of the federal and vision in making sure that funds are released to the states for training of teachers, who are employees and paid by the states, not that somebody sits somewhere to sabotage our efforts be-cause there is loop hole in the law.
“He said such situation would no longer be accept-able, the federal government is seeking an amendment of the UBEC Act, because when we give money we also want to sanction if it is not properly used.
If that is not done, obviously, all the ef-fort we are making would be in vain. We
can't just fold our hands and watch our efforts go down", he said.
"We have been going from state to state so that all the stake holders are aware of what we are doing.“
The minister also spoke on ways to revamp the Unity Schools across the country. He said the government is committing a lot of fund to bring them to the required standard, but cautioned that the work cannot be done in one year.
He assured that government is well aware that the standards in the schools are not what they were before, and disclosed that government has mapped out plans to bring back their glory.
Some of these plans, he explained, include the construction and equipping of well stocked library, laboratory and decent hostel accommodation, while the training of teachers continues.
He said the idea of the library was to lure both students on and off campus to read, thereby improving their reading culture and their performance in public examination.
“Initially, the said, government would start with about 30-35 schools each year, as fund is made available, "so that by 2015 we would have touched about 90 percent of the schools".
On motivation of teachers in the Unity Schools, Wike said, the first step was to address the anomaly of the existence of casual teachers. He disclosed that government has approved the regularisation of the 1,350 casual teachers into full employment, stressing that you can't expect any measure of commitment from workers who have been on the same level and salary for the past 10-15 years.