The Executive Secretary of the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), Dr. Hamid Bobboyi, has called for a deliberate programme to address the high birth rate, especially in the north, which has the highest number of out-of-school in the country.
He said this at a five-day financial management training for chairmen of state and the Federal Capital Territory Universal Basic Education Boards (SUBEBs) at the Lagos Business School.
Bobboyi noted that the country recorded a reduction in the number of out-of-school from the 2018 UNESCO baseline. For the 6-11 years section (primary school), the number reduced from the 2018 baseline of 10.2 million to 9.6 million in 2020. He said the number remained at 9.6 in 2021, and in 2022 the projection is that it will come down to 9.5 million.
According to him, the primary section is crucial, as the entry-level, because if children do not get into primary school, they cannot attend any other section of basic education.
In the junior secondary section, he said from the UNESCO statistics, the number of the 2018 baseline was 6.3 million out-of-school children. He said the number is also down to about 5.6 million.
The executive secretary explained that the recent UNESCO statistics of 20 million out-of-school children in the country did not indicate an increase from the 10.2 million, but because, according to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), basic education no longer ends at junior secondary school, but senior secondary school.
“So UNESCO is now counting from 6-18 years, not 6-11 years anymore, not even within junior secondary school of 12-14 years, but now including 15-18. That is why the future is high. But UNESCO has validated our figures and is even telling us that they are stable. There is need for us to see how we can make the push to ensure that we can reduce them,” he said.
On the essence of the training, Bobboyi said the commission’s Quarterly Financial Monitoring reports on the utilisation of the Federal Government-UBE Intervention Fund by the state and FCT Universal Basic Education Board revealed serial infractions being committed in SUBEBs, some of which violate the UBEC guidelines, accounting practices, the Financial Regulations and the Procurement Act.
He added that UBEC’s efforts to stamp out these practices by training the SUBEB accounting personnel did not yield the desired result. This forced the omission to recommend to its governing board what sanctions to impose on offending boards.
“I also consider this training very important for the purpose of protecting our individual integrity. Over the years, some of the boards have been invited for questioning by the crime-fighting agencies over the utilisation of government funds in their care,” the UBEC boss stated. “Even when most of the cases turn out to be baseless, the frequent visits to these agencies serve as distractions and some of the time create wrong impressions about our person in the minds of the public that may lead to their loss of trust and confidence in the UBE programmes.”