A News Analysis by Tola Okinbaloye, News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)
Stakeholders in the education sector regard the Universal Basic Education (UBE) scheme as a pragmatic programme aimed at boosting literacy in Nigeria.
Basic education refers to the whole range of educational activities taking place in different settings — formal, non-formal and informal — which aim to meet basic learning needs.
UBE, which is regarded as a priority for all developing countries, is the focus of the “Education for All’’ movement led by UNESCO. It is also one of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Analysts observe that the “Education for All’’ campaign of UNESCO has been repackaged to include useful components that would engender the effective delivery of knowledge in lower secondary schools.
They vouch for the desirability of the campaign, stressing that basic education is the bedrock of a society’s development and the foundation for other levels of education.
The analysts note that the recognition of basic education as a dependent variable in all spheres of human development has somewhat compelled UNESCO to insist on promoting quality basic education globally.
To that end, UNESCO ensures that it holds regular contacts via quarterly meetings with relevant stakeholders on the UBE scheme, as part of designed efforts to promote basic education.
For instance, UNESCO recently organised a quarterly meeting of the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) and States’ Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEBs) in Osogbo to ensure and sustain quality basic education delivery in Nigeria.
Gov. Rauf Aregbesola of Osun, who was represented by Deputy Governor Titi Laoye-Tomori, declared the meeting open and expressed his administration’s commitment to the growth of basic education.
To boost basic education in the state, Aregbesola said that the state government had improved the feeding allowances for all the pupils of public elementary schools in the state.
He also said that 2,330 qualified teachers had been recruited by Osun SUBEB to fill existing vacancies in elementary and middle schools.
Mr Felix Awofisayo, the Executive Chairman of Osun SUBEB, said that one of the six-point action plan of Osun Government for the state’s development entailed the provision of quality basic education.
However, the participants in the meeting made some observations on the implementation of the UBE programme in Nigeria, while making resolutions and offering recommendations.
They observed that physical education and sports were not receiving enough attention in most schools across the country because of inadequate facilities in the schools.
The participants also urged SUBEBs to establish functional units of the Education Management Information System (EMIS) in their organisations and in the Local Government Education Authorities (LGEA).
They stressed that the units would facilitate the collection and analysis of school data, while enhancing the capacity of head teachers in record keeping.
“SUBEBs are to ensure that instructional materials are distributed according to needs, using the enrolment data and availability of books in their states.
“This is to ensure value for money and support the Federal Government’s Universal Basic Education Textbook Initiative,’’ they said.
The participants, nonetheless, recommended that Nigeria should develop its human resources and build the human capacity for socio-economic and industrial growth so as to lay a solid foundation for quality basic education.
However, Dr Dikko Suleiman, the Executive Secretary of UBEC, conveyed the Federal Government’s commitment to adopting UNESCO’s policy, saying that 33 model Almajiri schools were established in 22 states and the FCT in 2013.
Speaking after the meeting, he noted that 34 Model III Almajiri Schools and three special schools were equally established in the year.
Suleiman said that the National Implementation Committee on Almajiri Education and UBEC would soon embark on an inspection of all the Almajiri schools.
He stressed that textbooks and teachers’ guides for Almajiri education had been produced and distributed to states.
He, however, said that tangible efforts would be made to verify claims made on the usage of instructional materials and recruitment of teachers by state governments.
Besides, Suleiman said that the commission would hold consultative meetings with major stakeholders, including commissioners for education and proprietors of private schools, on a regular basis.
The executive secretary, however, commended Delta, Kano State, Imo and Lagos states for their various innovations aimed at enhancing the effective implementation of the UBE programme.
Suleiman urged states, which had yet to access the UBE Intervention Funds, to take necessary steps to do so without any further delay so as to boost basic education.
One of the participants, Mr Adewale Bamidele, a Local Education Officer from Ondo State, urged UBEC and SUBEBs to ensure the regular monitoring of the Federal Teachers’ Scheme in their states in order to maximise its benefits.
“UBEC and SUBEBs and other stakeholders should also collaborate to ensure the successful conduct of the forthcoming national school census.
“States should encourage the participation of schools in co-curricular activities such as sports, quizzes, debates, essay-writing competitions, sign language clubs, readers’ clubs and drug-free clubs, among others,’’ he said.
Bamidele also called for the rehabilitation of all dilapidated public elementary and middle schools as well as the provision of adequate classroom furniture as a matter of priority.
All in all, the participants agreed that there was a need to provide qualified manpower and adequate funds as well as monitoring vehicles for states across the country to boost basic education.
They particularly underscored the need to recruit and post adequate qualified teachers to public elementary and middle schools across the country.
“Besides, the sustained professional development of teachers will complement efforts of the Federal Government and UNESCO to boost basic education in Nigeria,’’ the participants added. (NANFeatures)