House Moves to Increase UBEC Allocation from 2% to 4%

• Passes UBE amendment bill for second reading

Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja

The House of Representatives has passed for second reading a Bill for an Act to amend the Compulsory, Free Universal Basic Education (Amendment) Act. 

The proposed amendment seeks to increase the share of the Consolidated Revenue Fund allocated to the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) from two per cent to four per cent. 

The goal is to ensure that the allocation to education meets the recommended benchmark by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) of 15 to 20 per cent share of the total national budget.

The Bill sponsored by Hon. Tolani Muktar Shagaya

was read for the first time on Tuesday, 28th November, 2023.

Leading the debate at the plenary on Wednesday, Shagaya said UBEC was established in 1999 to formulate the policy guidelines for the successful operation of the universal basic education programmes in the country. 

To achieve this, she said UBEC receives two per cent of the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) from the Federal Government and allocates it to the states through a pre-existing counterpart funding arrangement, and other relevant agencies implementing the Universal Basic Education (UBE) programme.

The lawmaker explained that the original intention and mandate of the commission, as contained in the extant Act, is to provide greater access to, and ensure quality of basic education throughout Nigeria. 

Shagaya said going by this, basic education is to be provided by the Federal Government and it shall be compulsory, free, universal and qualitative.

The lawmaker added that the extant law establishing UBEC, while laudable, has still not achieved significant aspects of its set goals as intended.

For instance, Shagaya stressed that the issue of out-of-school children still proves to be a multifaceted problem with far reaching consequences. 

She said the latest global data on out-of-school children by UNICEF, Nigeria has approximately 10.5 million out-of-school children.

Regrettably, the lawmaker emphasised that a concerning trend also persists as a significant level of infrastructural deterioration plagues the majority of public primary schools across all 36 states of the federation. 

Shagaya added: “Despite the proposed capital expenditure for the education sector in the 2024 budget, its potential impact may be limited. With an increment in school enrolment numbers and widespread infrastructural decay, the situation is indeed daunting. 

“It is imperative that we address this while also prioritizing technological advancement and enhancing teacher’s training in our basic schools to align with global best practices.

“Mr Speaker, Honorable colleagues, as we strive towards allocating 20 per cent of the national budget to the education sector to meet global standards, improve the quality of learning and retain the best hands in the system, we must also remember that access to education is a recognised human right and one of the key pillars of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to which Nigeria is a signatory.”

Shagaya noted that the UBE Amendment Act is not a luxury, but a moral imperative and an investment in human dignity, social justice and in the promise of a brighter tomorrow.

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