Thursday, 4 May 2017

NGO wants FG to sanction states refusing to access UBEC funds


The Civil Society Action Coalition on Education for All (CSACEFA), an NGO, has called on the Federal Government to sanction states that are refusing to access the Universal Basic Education funds.

The organisation made the call during a rally to commemorate the global action week on Thursday in Abuja.

The theme of this year’s event is “Ensuring Accountability for SDG4’’.

Mr Kabir Alihu, National Moderator, CSACEFA, said there was need for necessary reforms in the education sector, adding that these reforms required full utilisation of the UBEC funds for the development of the sector.

Alihu noted that the education budget in 2017 had received tremendous increase and as such should be channelled to appropriate quarters for speedy utilisation.

“From the document made available to us by UBEC, we find out that there are states that have not access the funds from 2011 and 2013.

“With this we believe there is a problem somewhere, so we feel there should be a disciplinary mechanism and we should make education budget more transparent, more inclusive of the Civil Society Organisations and NGOs.

“By so doing, it will make the government accountable on what whatever they are meant to do,’’ he said.

The national moderator urged the Ministry of Education to review the Act on compulsory free education so as to accommodate all secondary school students, especially those in the Senior Secondary School 3 (SS3).

Alihu highlighted gray areas that the ministry should draw more attention with a view to develop the education system of the country.

He listed some of the areas to include adequate incentive of teachers, accessibility of schools to children, especially the girl child and the less privileged, increase in the education budgetary and planning process among others.

“The essence of this rally is to commemorate with the global action week. We want the review of the nine year compulsory free education to 12 years to accommodate the senior secondary students. “We think that Act should be reviewed to be in line with the SDG 4 to have a quality 12 years education and leaving no one behind.

“There should also be increase funding of education at all level both at the national and state levels,’’ he said.

Also, Mrs Chioma Osuji, Policy Adviser, CSACEFA noted that the N60 million lying fallow with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) should be accessed for the development of the education sector.

Osuji added that not accessing these funds would reduce the quality of education and denied many Nigerian children access to quality education.

“As at last month the boss of the UBEC stated that about N60billion is lying fallow in CBN that states have refused to access.

“So, if states are not accessing the funds, how do we deliver and ensure quality education in Nigeria.

“Millions of children are not accessing education; the schools are in poor state. Money is there just lying fallow as states have refused to access these funds.

“Take for instance, Ebonyi state since 2011 has refused to access these funds and we have issues of education in that state. Kogi state for over 12 to 15 months has refused to pay the teacher’s salary.

Mr Hamzat Lawal, the Chief Executive, Connected Development (CODE), said that holding public officers accountable in the utilisation of funds would greatly help in the execution of projects.

Lawal said that the organisation would continue to track funds that were meant for the development of education system in the country.

Responding, Malam Adamu Adamu, Minister of Education, assured the group that their grievance would be looked into with apt attention.

Adamu, who was represented by Dr Mohammed Umar, Director, Human Resource Management in the ministry, said the issues had coincided with what the ministry was doing at present.

“ I assure you that these certain key points will be presented to the ministry. This has also coincided with what we are currently doing and with your support we will achieve all this.

“All that is required is your patience because change is a gradual process; all these key points on review of curriculum, increase in the budget and the rest are what we doing,’’ he said.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the group took their procession from the eagle square to the National Assembly and finally down to the Federal Ministry of Education.

The inscription on their placards read: Increase Education Budget, UBEC money should be in a fixed deposit account; use it wisely, Make Education Prerogative of the Girl Child and Recruit Quality Teachers.

Others include: Sanction states that refuse to access the UBEC funds, Oyo State, Constitute SUBEB; utilise the UBEC funds and increase citizen participation in education budgetary and planning process, among others.

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