A former Minister of Education, Professor Ruqayyatu Ahmed Rufa’i,
yesterday accused governors of contributing to the dwindling fortunes of education in the country.
She said they failed to access over N51 billion matching grant from the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) between 2005 and 2019.
Prof. Rufa’i spoke at a lecture titled: Insecurity and the New Dangers to the Girl-Child Education in Nigeria: Options for Nigeria Government, she delivered at the fourth convocation of the National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies (NILDS) and the University of Benin (UNIBEN) postgraduate programme in Abuja.
The ex-minister said data sourced from UBEC this year showed that Kwara State had over N6 billion yet to be accessed UBEC funds; Ekiti has over N4 billion; Enugu and Nasarawa states have over N3 billion each; Abia, Adamawa, Osun, Oyo and Plateau states have over N2 billion each of outstanding UBEC funds.
Other states with over N1 billion un-accessed matching grant from UBEC between 2005 and 2019 include Anambra, Bauchi, Bayelsa, Benue, Edo, Jigawa, Niger, Ogun and Zamfara.
Prof. Ruifa’i insisted that the lack of access to the funds was among the challenges militating against education and the girl-child education in the country.
The ex-minister noted that emerging issues endangering girls’ access to education in Nigeria include school abductions, school closures, displacement of the population and low revenue allocation to the Education sector.
Ex-Minister of Education, Professor Ruqayyatu Ahmed Rufa’i.
“Nigeria has been faced with diverse security challenges. These range from the insurgency in the Northeast to armed banditry, which is now a major concern to states in the Northwest and Northcentral.”
“Coupled with these are also inter-communal conflicts. These challenges have led to the displacement of populations across regions and thereby affecting every aspect of social, economic and political affairs across the country.
“Access to education has been experiencing major setbacks due to the security challenges facing the country.
“In the Northeast of Nigeria, the conflict has been centred, amongst others, around the disdain for Western education by the Boko Haram group. “This has led to schools being targets for destruction. In other parts of the country, the abduction of school children from their places of learning has caused a lot of disruptions,” she said.
According to her, over 60 per cent of out-of-school children comprises girls, while intervention for the Universal Basic Education (UBE) needs to be further revised to give greater priority to disadvantaged communities and groups.
“Again, a gender approach that will take care of girls and their challenges in access to education should be priority,” she said.
To deal with the effect of insecurity on the education of girls, Prof. Rufa’I urged the government to provide sustainable solutions to the root causes of insecurity.
The ex-minister noted that to achieve this, primary attention must be given to promoting transparency and accountability in governance.
He said Nigeria had the highest number of out-of-school children with 10.5 million in the last 10 years.
“What this translates to is that one out of every three school-age children do not attend school,” Prof. Rufa’I said.
She called for new approaches to tackle all the elements that promote not only the challenges out-of-school girls but also conflict mitigation.
Senate President Ahmad Lawan said NILDS was established to provide support services to the National Assembly.
Lawan, who was represented by Senate Leader Yahaya Abdullahi, said the National Assembly would continue to support the institute through adequate budgetary provision to ensure completion of their permanent site on Airport Road.
House of Representatives Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila said the country’s human capital resources were mainly developed through the education system which have important implication for both the individual and the entire society.
“At an individual level, getting education, skills make people more productive and this productivity gains, translates into wage increases.
“At macro level, a well-educated labour force contributes to the economic and productivity growth and advances the innovative capacity of a society which all together helps in increasing the standard of living,” he said.
NILDS Director General Professor Abubakar Sulaiman said 112 candidates were conferred with awards across all the postgraduate programmes while 18 candidates were awarded the Higher National Diploma (HND) certificates.
He insisted that to improve service delivery and the quality of NILDS intervention and programmes, the institute’s management had embarked on rigorous training involving all cadres of workers.
“I have no doubt that through constant training, education, research and other capacity-building programmes for the legislature, the National Assembly will be better placed to respond to the complex and multi-faceted challenges that it faces in the course of discharging its constitutional mandate,” Sulaiman said.