By Asmau Ahmad with agency report
The Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) has revealed that Nigeria needs an additional 20,000 schools and 907,769 classrooms to be able to absorb the growing number of out-of-school children in the country.
This was revealed in a statement by the Director of press, Federal Ministry of Education, Ben Goong, on Tuesday.
According to the statement, the Executive Secretary of UBEC, Hamid Bobboyi, gave the statistics while briefing the Minister of Education, Prof. Tahir Mamman, on his agency’s activities.
The PUNCH Healthwise reports that there have been controversies over the true state of out-of-school children in Nigeria.
Though the official number of out-of-school children in Nigeria as of September 2023 could not be independently verified by our correspondent at the time of filing this report due to a delay in the conduct of the national census, a 2022 report by UNESCO estimated that Nigeria currently has approximately 20 million out-of-school children.
But the Nigerian government under the former President Muhammadu Buhari argued that the country only accounts for 12.4% of the total number of out-of-school children in sub-Saharan Africa.
Experts, however, noted that while UNESCO’s statistics were based on out-of-school children aged 6-18 years, the Federal Government only focused on those within the age bracket of 6-11 years, causing the disparity in statistics between the figures presented by UNESCO and the government.
According to the statement by the FME, the Minister of Education, Professor Tahir Mamman, however, gave “strong indications that his administration will prioritize basic education in the country, emphasising that the foundation level is the most critical segment in the sector, which must be properly developed to impact positively on other tiers of the sector and overall national development.”
The minister stated this on Tuesday in his office in Abuja, in continuation of his briefing sessions with parastatals and agencies under the supervision of the Federal Ministry of Education.
Prof. Tahir used the occasion to call on all the states of the federation to show greater commitment towards providing counterpart funding to accelerate the development of basic education in the country, adding that the President Bola Ahmed Tinubu-led administration will leave no stone unturned in ensuring that every Nigerian child is brought on board the ship of Education.
The minister noted that the forthcoming national census will put paid to the controversies surrounding the actual figures of out-of-school children.
Earlier in his briefing, UBEC Executive Secretary, Dr Hamid Bobboyi, told the ministers that the country needs an additional 20, 000 schools and 907, 769 classrooms to absorb the growing number of School Children.
He identified Infrastructural gaps, and inadequate manpower as some of the challenges facing the commission in its efforts towards ensuring equitable access to quality basic education.