UBEC, Lawmakers Seek Solution to Challenges of Basic Education

Uchechukwu Nnaike

Participants at a two-day retreat organised by the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) for members of the Senate Committee on Education (Basic and Secondary) unanimously identified some challenges of basic education in the country, which call for urgent intervention.

The retreat, titled ‘Basic Education Implementation in Nigeria: Issues, Challenges and Way Forward’, was held at the Marriott Hotel in Lagos. 

In his remarks, the Executive Secretary of UBEC, Dr. Hamid Bobboyi, stressed the need for education to respond to the country’s needs and aspirations by keeping abreast of local and global developments.

According to him, aspects of the Universal Basic Education Act 2004 constitute an encumbrance of the smooth implementation of the UBE programme.

“Having been enacted in 2004, that is, 20 years ago, and given the developments and changes that have taken place in the society since then, it is our view that the Act is overdue for review,” Bobboyi said. 

He added that the retreat examined topics such as the status of basic education in Nigeria and its implementation challenges, UBEC programmes and initiatives, the UBE funding mechanism, the UBEC Smart Education programme, learner assessment in basic education, and the perspectives of the State Universal Basic Education Boards on UBE implementation.

He said recommendations on how to improve basic education delivery in Nigeria are anticipated to emerge from the discussion.

The Chairman of the retreat, Senator Olugbenga Daniel, said some of the issues in basic education include poor access, poor quality, inadequate teacher training, insufficient learning materials, poor funding, and disparity between boys and girls and children with disability, among others.

He said the challenges include large class sizes, poor teacher-student ratios, limited access to technology, societal barriers, and cultural issues. He called for increased funding, improved teacher training, technology integration, and community engagement and integration to address these.

Daniel also recommended curriculum reform, infrastructure development, teacher recruitment and retention, and decentralisation to grant local governments autonomy, especially financial autonomy, to oversee primary education properly. 

Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu identified some challenges as inadequate infrastructure and poor quality of the teaching workforce, saying that investing in teachers’ training, professional development, and welfare is crucial. 

Sanwo-Olu, represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Mrs. Bimbo Salu-Hundeyin, also stressed the need to address the disparities in educational access and quality between gender and urban and rural areas.

He described the retreat as a wake-up call to more positive and forward-looking action, stating, “We must engage in open dialogues, share best practices and develop actionable plans that will drive significant improvements in our education system.” 

On his part, the Executive Secretary, Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council (NERDC), Prof. Ismail Junaidu, noted that in the curriculum review process, students indicated interest in robotics and artificial intelligence, but teachers in rural areas don’t have access to computers.

Therefore, he called for the training and retraining of teachers to enable them to acquire 21st-century skills and deliver the curriculum. 

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