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AFED president urges FG to extend UBEC fund access to private schools

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Orji Emmanuel, the national president of the Association for Formidable Educational Development (AFED), has made a compelling appeal to the federal government to amend the Universal Basic Education (UBE) Act.

Emmanuel’s call stems from the need to allow private schools to access the UBEC fund, a crucial educational resource often limited to public institutions.

This plea comes on the heels of reports revealing that twenty-seven states have failed to tap into a substantial N54.9 billion basic education fund provided by the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC).

The concerning figures highlight an apparent disconnect between available resources and their effective utilisation in improving educational infrastructure and opportunities across the country.

Just three weeks ago, UBEC disclosed a detailed document outlining the matching grants disbursed to thirty-six states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) between 2005 and 2023.

Ebenezer Leo, Education Advisor to the Northern Governor’s Forum, previously underscored the challenge faced by state governments in raising the required 50% counterpart funds, as mandated by Part III, Section 41 of the UBEC Act 2004, which has led to the entrapment of UBEC funds.

Meanwhile, at the House of Representatives, a significant bill proposing an amendment to the UBEC Act to increase funding from the consolidated revenue fund from 2% to 4% has advanced past the second reading stage, signaling potential legislative support for bolstering basic education initiatives.

Expressing profound concern over the untapped grants amid the alarming rise of out-of-school children in Nigeria, Emmanuel attributed this issue to governance lapses at the state level.

“Good Governance for some individuals would remain a mystery because they don’t understand it, but want of persons or the unavailability of people who understand it, many states in Nigeria are under wrong leadership or under those with power to confiscate the instrumentality of governance

Consider revising the passage for clarity and coherence:

“Amid the alarming increase in out-of-school children, it’s perplexing that many states have failed to access the UBEC matching grant. This grant is designed to augment annual investments in the basic education of Nigerian children. It raises concerns when some state leaders seem unable to grasp the vital role education plays in national development,” he said.

He added, “While it’s understandable for states like Abia, which have faced governance challenges, to struggle, it’s puzzling why second-term governors in other states haven’t utilized these funds effectively. It’s disheartening that despite the availability of these resources, a significant number of children remain out of school.”

He emphasised the necessity of effective governance, lamenting that mismanagement and lack of understanding regarding the importance of education have contributed to this unfortunate scenario.

Emmanuel stressed the need for inclusive amendments to the UBE Act that recognise and accommodate low-cost private schools, a burgeoning segment within Nigeria’s educational landscape.

Highlighting the global success and impact of low-cost schools, he advocated for the utilization of UBEC funds to support educational endeavors, whether through public or low-cost private institutions.

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