The Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) said on Friday that state governments have not accessed the N76 billion due to them for 2017 projects.
The unclaimed fund represents 20 per cent of the total matching grants of N380 billion released to the commission as at October 31.
The Executive Secretary of the Commission, Dr Hammid Bobboyi made the disclosure in Lagos at a summit on basic education organised by the Education Writers’ Association of Nigeria (EWAN).
According to him, most state governments have shown poor commitment to the promotion and development of the basic education sub-sector.
Bobboyi, represented by his Deputy, Dr Sharon Oviemuno, said over N303 billion representing 80 per cent of the total matching grants had been judiciously utilised to revive the sector.
He listed challenges confronting basic education to include huge number of out-of-school children including the Almajaris and children with special needs, and inadequate spaces in schools at basic education level.
Other challenges were low budgetary allocation to basic education at state and local government levels, dwindling government revenue, general insecurity in schools occasioned by insurgency, kidnapping, and rape, among many others, he said.
“We must build on a rich intellectual culture to build a robust educational future not only for the states but for the entire country,” the executive secretary said.
The National President, Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT), Mr Micheal Alogba-Olukoya, said the funding basic primary education should not be handed over to local governments as being proposed.
The NUT president, represented by the union’s Deputy Chairman in Lagos, Mr Adedoyin Adeshina said stakeholders must intervene to save the sector as education was the bedrock of national development.
A former Edo State Commissioner for Education, Prof. Ngozi Osarenren, commended the association for coming up with the programme.
She said the theme: ‘Whither Basic Education in Nigeria?” was apt and instructive and that urged stakeholders to give children the best education in line with global standards.
According to her, admission seekers study education because they could not meet up with the cut-off marks of their initial choice courses.
She attributed mass failure in Mathematics to teachers skipping some topics in the subject “because they did not know them.”
The Chairman of EWAN, Mr Tunbosun Ogundare, called for government intervention in the basic education sector and said journalist must mobilise stakeholders to take action.
The summit, chaired by Nigeria’s former Representative to UNESCO, Emeritus Prof. Michael Omolewa, was an intervention initiative by journalists across the print, electronic and online media to inspire action to save the sector.