Executive Secretary, Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), Dr. Hamid Bobboyi, disclosed on Wednesday, that N120 billion was lying in the coffers of the Commission unutilized by state governments as at 31st December, 2020.
Dr. Bobboyi was, however, concerned that states are not forthcoming with their counterpart funds to access the money, and that has greatly contributed to the infrastructural and manpower challenges being faced in the states as regards basic education services.
Howbeit, there are indications that some states are yet to access their UBEC intervention funds for several years, while some states, particularly from the north have been consistent in accessing their the funds for the benefits of their basic education services.
The UBEC boss appealed to states with backlog of unaccessed funds to do the needful and take possession of their funds, and deploy same to the cause of developing their basic education system.
Meanwhile, the Commission said it has finalized plans to spend over N5.9 billion to construct 17 new smart schools (N350 million each) in states that are yet to benefit get smart smart.
“At the moment, we have seven zonal smart schools across geopolitical zones in the country which costs N600 million to construct. We have also started the construction of the state models and so far, we have constructed two in each of the geopolitical zones and one extra in the north west because of the number of states there and the population.
“Our hope is that in the next one month, we will ensure that the remaining states that do not have the model schools have them because
the construction will start very soon,” it said.
The UBEC noted that the whole idea was to ensure that children in Nigeria compete effectively in the 21st century, because in many parts of the world, e-learning has become an integral part of the school system and Nigeria cannot afford to be left behind.
He said that while private schools in the country are already providing e-learning facilities for their pupils, the government is pushing hard to ensure that pupils in public schools have e-learning facilities irrespective of whether they can afford to pay for them.
He said that UBEC was in discussion with the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC), National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), internet service providers and other stakeholders to ensure internet connectivity in the schools.
“The power systems will be provided by the Chinese company, Huawei. We are making effort to ensure that we have stable power supply at the end of the day,” he said.