THE Executive Secretary Universal Basic Education Commission, (UBEC) Dr Hamid Bobboyi, has appealed to stakeholders in the education sector to join hands with the Federal Government in ensuring that the quality of teaching and learning at the basic level of education in Nigeria is strengthened.
Bobboyi who spoke in Abuja said even though the year 2020 was very challenging as a result of COVID-19 pandemic the Commission worked hard in many areas including support for provision of e-learning and other response to the pandemic.
According to a statement made available to journalists by Head, Public Relations and Protocol, David Apeh the Commission in realization of the importance of teacher in the provision of quality education, designated 10 per cent of the entire amount that is received from the Consolidated Revenue Fund for Teacher Professional Development through the States Universal Basic Education Boards.
“We remain the biggest teacher development agency in the country; not even the National Teachers’ Institute or any other agency.
UBEC’s 10 per cent of the entire amount that is received from the Consolidated Revenue Fund is designated for Teacher Professional Development through the States Universal Basic Education Boards. That is something that is very important for us to realise that we pump in a minimum of N10 billion every year for Teacher Professional Development in this country,” he said.
He said, however, that one of the major challenges is getting qualified teachers to teach the children in the country, which he noted the Federal Ministry of Education was trying to address, saying for now every parent wants his or her child to study Medicine, Law, Economics, Engineering and host of others.
He said a situation where as a teacher, one has to rely on support from other members of the family in almost everything, be it marriage, child education among others has to be corrected.
According to the 2018 National Personnel Audit (NPA) report on Public and Private Basic Education Schools in Nigeria, Nigeria has shortage of 277, 537 teachers.
The personnel audit conducted by the Universal Basic Education Commission, further indicated that while 73 per cent of those teaching in public schools are qualified teachers, only 53 per cent of teachers in private schools are qualified to teach, that is those that have the minimum requirement of Nigeria Certificate in Education (NCE) and above.
Bobboyi said: “Our hope is that with the current reforms that are being put in place where you attract the best candidates into the teaching profession and compensate them adequately, the narrative will change. In many countries and I was in Singapore and they told me that you are better off as a teacher than a medical doctor if it is about money. It is the same thing in Finland,”.
He added that teaching in other countries is competitive where a teacher is at least making a decent living and being supported by the state, noting that even in Nigeria during the earlier days, teachers were not necessarily receiving huge salaries per se but there were a lot of fringe benefits accruing to them-house, car, and respectability in family and society.
On instructional materials, the Executive Secretary said the quality of resources to teach play vital role in achieving quality education, which he noted UBEC has voted 15 per cent of the entire amount received from the Consolidated Revenue Fund annually to purchase of instructional materials distributed to schools.
He said the expectation was that state governments would complement this effort, acquiring textbooks for their own schools so that with the help coming from the Federal Government, every child should have a textbook on the key subject matter, regretting that about 95 per cent of the states do not provide textbooks for their school children.
“They wait for the Federal Government to give them what would be given and if you do the arithmetic of the 15 per cent, maybe N15 billion and divide by all the number of children in the public schools in the country, you can’t meet the demand. It is important for us to realise what UBEC has been doing in this regard and understand other constraints and how our other stakeholders should play their own roles to ensure that we have quality in our schools”.
On the issue of equity, the UBEC boss said the Commission has been working on how to see that those children who are left on their own or whose parents have not been able to fund their education and those with special needs are accommodated in the school system.
He disclosed that 2 per cent UBEC funding goes to special needs education, which is about N2.1 billion each year that is disbursed to states. He acknowledged that the money was small when compared to the number of children with special needs while also lamenting that most often the usage of the money by states were not strategic to make a difference.
The challenges are there but the structure of UBEC is to stimulate the development in particular areas, looking at how to expand access, improve quality, ensure equity and those elements of quality that we need to take care of in the system as well as provide necessary funding to the states and the states also bring their own. That synergy is required for us to make a difference,”.