By Abdussalam Amoo
The Executive Secretary of the Universal Basic Education Board, Hamid Bobboyi has called on state governments to pay their counterpart funds to access the matching grants from UBEC.
He made this call while speaking at this year’s Wole Soyinka Media Lecture Series held last Friday.
Bobboyi, who was a lead entitle at the lecture themed, “Light Up, Light In: Interrogating the nexus between electricity and basic education”, noted that part of the problems bedeviling the success of basic education in Nigeria is the absence of accurate and current research-based data to enable the government capture relevant statistics like that of out-of-school children, teacher-students ratio and students-classroom information, across the country.
He expressed worries that states would continue to thwart the basic education drive if they fail to draw medium term action plan to guide the implementation of the counterpart funding programme.
“What they used to do in the past is to come up with a long term plan spanning 10 years or more, but now, we are insisting that they draw a five-year medium term plan that shows what they can immediately achieve with the intervention funds they receive from UBEC,” he said.
Also speaking at the event which also featured the launch of the Regulators Monitoring Programme (REMOP), were a former Education Minister, Oby Ezekwesili and a former Chairman of the Nigerian Electric Regulatory Commission (NERC), Anthony Akah.
Ezekwesili advised that the Operation Reach All Secondary Schools policy she initiated while at the Federal Ministry of Education be resuscitated to enable government collect direct data on schools.
She also asked that the public schools in the country be mapped to ascertain the ones close to power grids so that communities and pressure groups can begin to demand compulsory electrification of these schools to improve learning.
Akah, who was also a keynote speaker, noted that, though electricity is central to all aspects of human lives and a key driver of successful basic education, low investment, poor infrastructure and the penchant for private investors to flout operational regulations have worsened the sector more than ever.
Olabisi Obadofin, a Professor of Counselling Psychology at the Lagos State University (LASU), enriched the discussion with her explanation of the psychosocial impact of lack of electricity on students.
She pointed out that the absence of electricity in a community is a deterrent for teachers who may be posted to such areas.