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Katsina, Oyo, Adamawa win national awards for best performance in UBE

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Katsina, Oyo, Adamawa win national awards for best performance in UBE

Post  Admin on Mon Mar 02, 2009 6:18 pm

GOVERNOR Ibrahim Shehu Shema was the cynosure of all eyes last Tuesday at the Congress Hall of Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja, as Katsina State won the first national overall position for Universal Basic Education (UBE) delivery. For coming first out of the 36 states, Katsina got a trophy and a princely sum of N700 million. The second overall position went to Oyo State while the third national best was Adamawa State. They got N400 million and N300 million respectively.

The first ever impressive ceremony, organized by the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) to reward states which effectively utilized the Federal Government, UBE Intervention Fund most effectively in 2005 and 2006, also induced rare frank statements from major education stakeholders about the need to move away from empty rhetoric, to concrete action to save the education sector.

To encourage states to do more in Basic Education, towards attaining the Education for All (EFA) and Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the Federal Government had instituted the Best Performance Award, to encourage states to perform excellently in their drive for the UBE programme implementation. The award is also envisaged to encourage weak states to wake up from their slumber and pay the required attention to basic education. For this purpose, five per cent out of the two per cent Consolidated Revenue Fund, provided for in the UBE Act, was set aside for disbursement to the winning states.

Besides the national awards, there are also awards for the best three in each of the six geo - political zones in the country. The first, second and third position winners in this category are entitled to N100 million, N70 million and N50 million respectively.

Thus, for the North Central zone, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja came first, Niger was second while Kogi came third. Gombe, Bauchi and Taraba states came first, second and third respectively for the North East Zone; Kano, Kebbi and Zamfara also won the first, second and third positions respectively for the North West zone. For the South East Zone, Anambra, Abia and Ebonyi came first, second and third respectively, while Rivers came first and was the only winner for the South South region. For the South West, Ondo, Ekiti and Ogun states finished first, second and third respectively.

A 10 - minute - documentary paid glowing tributes to Katsina and Oyo states for their efforts in turning basic education around. Oyo state was reported to have trained the highest number of teachers with the intervention funds, while Katsina's case was described as "a completely radical transformation." However, Nasarawa state received knocks for "failing dismally" to take concrete steps to deliver basic education to its children. Edo state was also reprimanded for its "shameful" performance in basic education. The state of its decrepit classrooms, revealed by the slides, induced negative comments from the large audience.

Executive Secretary of UBEC, Dr Modibo Mohammed said that several states have, so far, drawn their counter part funds while others were yet to do so. He noted that UBEC has, so far, received N98 billion up to the first quarter of 2008 from the federal government for basic education. Some N33 billion has also been disbursed. He described as sad, the lukewarm attitude by some state governors toward basic education, just as he implored them to realize how strategic the sub sector is to the attainment of the country's goals.

Vice President, Jonathan Goodluck underscored Modibbo's position when he said that the only way Nigeria could become one of the top 20 leading economies by 2020 "is to refocus our commitment and investment in education for the benefit of the Nigerian child." Represented by the Minister of Education, Dr Sam Egwu, the vice president also urged UBEC to make the event a yearly affair "not only to boost the morale of exemplary states, but also to encourage those states which are weak in implementation, to aspire to inculcate and demonstrate the necessary political, administrative and needed strategies capable of raising the standard of quality programme implementation."

Explaining the process that produced the winners, Egwu told the audience that external assessors and a coalition of civil society organizations undertook on - the - spot assessments of the performances of each state, that completely accessed their UBE funds each year. The indicators used, he explained, included, among others, UBE funding and administration, and the level of commitment shown in implementing projects, tackling challenges associated with Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCDE), and primary/junior secondary education. The quantum of additional funds, expended on UBE by the respective states, was also examined.

Egwu, who was represented by the Minister of State for Education, Hajia Aishatu Dukku (Egwu represented the vice president) also stated that for the 2005 awards, 29 states and the FCT who had accessed and utilized their funds were considered, while 25 of the 29 states and the FCT also qualified for the 2006 awards.

The Chairman of the Federal House of Representatives' Committee on Education, Mr. Farouk Lawan, declared that any governor or leader who cannot comprehend the importance of education need not be in office. "Any leader who wants progress must take education as number one," he said. "There's nothing as good as committing funds to the education sector. If the foundation (primary education) is shaky, no super structure can be built on it. If a governor cannot access his state's UBE funds, that governor is not fit to continue in office."

Savouring the attention on him, Shema seized the moment to explain how Katsina won the first position. His words: "Between 2005 and 2007, the Katsina state government executed construction of classrooms, offices, stores, toilets, furniture, provision of instructional materials and teacher development for pre - primary, primary and junior secondary schools to the tune of N4.36 billion. We have released the sum of N1.4 billion as counterpart funds for 2008 and 2009 respectively. In continuation of the primary school improvement project, four primary schools are currently being upgraded into storey buildings, while one other is being totally reconstructed at the cost of N518.4 million. With the enrolment of over 1.2 million pupils in our 2174 primary schools and over 20, 000 teachers, our target is 100 per cent for boys and girls, 100 per cent retention and 100 per cent transition from primary to junior secondary schools.

"The state government has also abolished all forms of school fees and levies from nursery one to senior secondary schools and introduced free transportation for our teeming students in all our major towns, all in a bid to ensure that all obstacles to educational pursuits of our children are removed."

the guardian


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