IN the efforts to expand the chances of candidates gaining admission into the nation’s universities, the National Conference Committee on Social Sector has proposed the extension of the validity of results obtained for the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) to two years.
The committee lamented the circumstance where over 1.5 million qualified Nigerians jostle yearly for only about 500,000 available spaces leaving the bulk of over one million others who are unable to secure admission because of low carrying capacity of the institutions in the country.
The committee also urged both federal and state governments to boost their budgetary allocation to education sector to 26 per cent in line with the recommendations of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).
Chaired by a former Minister of Women Affairs, Josephine Anenih with the immediate past Minister of Education, Ruqayyatu Rufa’i as her deputy, the panel maintained that the exams conducted by the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) was hard to pass but expensive for low income earning parents, considering the low standards and difficulty in getting money to register.
“JAMB result should last for two years to enable the candidates have another trial to secure admission.”
It said: “Federal and state governments should continue to finance education through adequate annual budgetary provision of at least 26 per cent funding, release of budgeted funds as first line charge and ensuring that funds released are spent with attention to prudence and value for money.”
The committee report, expected to be debated at the conference plenary this week, also recommended that the two per cent Consolidated Revenue Fund allocated to the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) by the Federal Government should be increased to 4 per cent.
It also recommended that the two per cent Education Tax Fund remitted to the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) should be increased to four per cent, noting that this was in recognition of the importance of education to national development and the need to ensure proper funding of the sector.
As part of initiative to encourage more private sector participation in delivery of education in the country, the Anenih-led committee said there was the urgent need to stop the double taxation of private school proprietors by the Ministry of Education and the Board of Internal Revenue.
This, according to the committee, would help reduce the exorbitant fees charged by private institutions while at the same time create incentive for more people to invest in the sector.
The report indicated, “There is basically nothing wrong with the current education policy. Faithful implementation is the major problems. If Nigeria is able to achieve 80 per cent implementation, most of the problems of the educational system will be taken care of.
It is argued that the low standard of education in the country was a result of poor budgetary allocation to the sector as well as the neglect of government to take a more responsive stance on uplifting and supporting policies that would better position nation’s education.
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