The Executive Secretary, Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), Dr Hamid Bobboyi has said that the Commission is worried about the poor learning outcomes in basic education despite huge intervention by the Federal Government.
He, however, blamed this on a number of factors including, the recruitment of unqualified teachers by some state governments, lack of regular professional training programmes for teachers, and low remuneration among others.
Bobboyi spoke on Wednesday in Abuja while declaring open a one-day workshop for Council for Regulation of Engineers in Nigeria (COREN) inspectors for monitoring of UBEC/SUBEBS Matching Grant intervention projects in 36 states and FCT.
He was reacting to a report by United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), that Nigeria is faced with a staggering learning crisis with about 70 per cent of children in schools cannot read and write or perform basic numeracy tasks by age 10.
The UBEC boss said that even though the figures being bandied were not scientific, the Commission was working with UNICEF to have a large scale assessment of learning achievements in the country, going into the details of what the problems are and to improve learning outcomes in Nigeria.
He said there was a need to invest more in teachers that would teach children at the basic level of education, especially in public schools across the country.
“There is no justification for all the investment if the child in the classroom is not learning,” he said.
On collaboration with COREN, Bobboyi said one of the key elements that could encourage learning is a good environment, hence the need the partnership with the Council to ensure that infrastructure built in public schools across the country are of standard quality.
Recall that on 3rd March 2022, UBEC and COREN signed a memorandum of understanding for the Council to monitor UBEC matching grant intervention projects across the 36 states of the Federation and Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
The Executive Secretary disclosed that 50 per cent of allocation to the Commission from the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF), as support by the Federal Government to basic education, is disbursed to state governments for the development of infrastructure.
He said it was therefore important for UBEC to monitor what is going on in order to ensure that there is value for money and infrastructures built are safe and could last for a long time as well as motivate the pupils to learn better.
He added that the role of the COREN was to make sure that all buildings in public basic schools have their certification and are well built to add value to Nigerian classrooms.
According to him, the engagement of COREN for monitoring and evaluation of UBEC projects would add value to the efforts being put in place to ensure quality basic education delivery in the country.
Registrar of COREN, Professor Adisa Bello, in his remark, said the Council is to monitor construction work, renovation, furniture, equipment, works and water supply projects and report appropriately to UBEC management, saying this falls within Engineering Regulation Monitoring (ERM) mandate of the Council.
He said this was to ensure the protection of lives and property, safety and value for money for sustainable national infrastructure development in Nigeria.
Bello warned the inspectors against deviation from the norm, stressing that anyone found wanting during the exercise would be dealt with accordingly.
He said: “Any of our inspectors that is found wanting in the course of his or her duty, will be adequately sanctioned.”
He commended the management of UBEC for opening itself for scrutiny, saying many government agencies would not be prepared to subject themselves to such evaluation.
President of Nigerian Society of Engineers, Engr. Tas’u Gidari Wudil, on his part, noted that infrastructures in schools are very key to delivery of education, saying the Council has however discovered that most of the projects were badly done with minimal supervision.
He added that UBEC does not have the capacity to effectively supervise those projects across the entire country, hence the need for support of the Council Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria, by extension the Nigerian Society of Engineers.