By Deborah Musa, Abuja
The House of Representatives Committee on basic education has lamented the poor state of infrastructure schools and blamed state governors for the decay.
The Reps lamented that children are made to learn under these conditions noting that it was unacceptable.
The committee stated that even in the heat of Covid-19, basic water to drink or wash hands and sanitizers for the children to use were not available
The Committee members also noted that for basic education to function properly in the country, it would entail the Nigerian education system to go digital, making it necessary for head teachers and teachers to be computer literate
This was made known at an education summit organised by the Human Development Initiative(HDI) in Abuja with the theme: “Building Qualitative, Inclusive and Adaptive Education System: Meeting Modern Day Education Challenges in Nigeria”
Stakeholders in the education sector who were in attendance lamented authorities at different levels have not lived up to expectations in repositioning basic education.
Chairman of the committee, Prof. Julius Ihonvbere, speaking in Abuja, said that the inconsistency of policies and poor funding are factors to be blamed for the poor infrastructure which is contributing greatly to the poor performance of school children
Hon. Ihonvbere also expressed displeasure at the laid-back attitudes of state governors in accessing their counterpart funds with the Universal Basic Education Commission(UBEC) just as he accused others of diverting the funds to other areas outside education.
He said, “The absence of policy consistency, poor funding and inadequate basic facilities are major challenges in the sector.”
“We want a kind of emergency declared on school infrastructure. The children are learning under very dangerous buildings. Some of them are unsteady. Well, we pray non crashes on the children
“There should be a special programme that would bring the teachers and instructors into the digital age”, because according to him,” You cannot give what you do not have. You cannot teach what you do not know.”
“It is never too late. Nobody is too old to learn how to use a simple computer. I believe if we take that as a starting point, things will change. There is no reason why we can’t digitalise our schools, provide electricity through solar and provide water,” he said
He added saying “How do you take six or seven years old and put them in a classroom a whole day without water to wash their hands and yet we are saying COVID-19 is here, wash and sanitise your hands.”
“Water is basic, it’s not there even to drink. Again, where’s the sanitizer? So many things are wrong but I believe that government policies can resolve these, then sanctioning those who violate those rules, “he said.
He said some state governments had abandoned their counterpart funds with the Universal Basic Education Commission while some funds have been diverted to other areas outside education.
Ihonvbere said “UBEC gives money and some of these funds are not properly managed and nothing happens. So those coming after will repeat the same mistake. How can a governor stay in office for eight years and not access his state’s money with UBEC? And some who access do not deploy the money to the right place! That is why people are saying state governments have roles to play, after all, the budget money for education but they don’t release it to education. It is not all the states; some states are doing very well. In some states, you don’t even know what they do with the funds”
A former Provost of Osun State College of Education, Prof Labayo Kazeem, said the nation’s education sector needs more pressure to be applied in terms of implementation.
He revealed how sad it was that Adult education has become a thing of the past in most states and how Governors don’t feel saddled with the responsibility to provide infrastructure
Kazeem said “They are more concerned about other things that are happening apart from investing in education. We don’t need development partners to tell us what to do right. We are not lacking in the policy. They are so comprehensive. We have joined every convention. Education is the only thing that can drive development.
“If we must develop as a nation, the students must be given the opportunity to excel. That is why when we go anywhere in the world we can adapt. Help us tell the governor’s to be serious with our education.”
The Executive Director of Human Development Initiatives, Olufunsho Owasanoye said
“Some states have nothing to write home about, insecurity, low mortality for students and teachers, overpopulation and so on. We are in the techy era but some teachers especially the old ones are not really in tune with it. Everybody has to be technology compliant. We need to rebuild education and adapt to the new technology.
“Education in any state must take priority. There must be a round-table to discuss what has not been done. The people had to come together and the government needs to strengthen the existing structure and put more structure to ensure the students are safe. When the students know that they are safe they would be willing to go to school”, she said.