Doosuur lwambe, Abuja
The Executive Secretary of Universal Basic Education Commission, Dr Hamid Bobboyi has said that the Commission has committed a minimum of N10bn annually to teachers’ professional development in the country.
In a statement, its head, public relations and protocol, David Apeh, Bobboyi called on stakeholders to join hands with the Federal Government in ensuring that the quality of teaching and learning at the basic level of education in Nigeria is strengthened for the graduates of the system to be globally competitive.
Bobboyi said, even though the year 2020 was challenging as a result of COVID-19 pandemic that led to lockdown of the country including closure of schools for the most part, the Commission worked hard in many areas including support for provision of e-learning and other response to the pandemic.
He said the commission in realisation of the importance of teachers in the provision of quality education, designated 10 per cent of the entire amount that is received from the consolidated revenue fund for teacher professional development through the states universal basic education boards.
“We remain the biggest teacher development agency in the country; not even the National Teachers’ Institute or any other agency.
“UBEC’s 10 per cent of the entire amount that is received from the Consolidated Revenue Fund is designated for Teacher Professional Development through the States Universal Basic Education Boards. That is something that is very important for us to realise that we pump in a minimum of N10 billion every year for Teacher Professional Development in this country,” he said.
Bobboyi who said it was essential for teachers to be trained professionally, added that the quality of teaching given in the class is dependent on the quality of the teachers that are available.
He said, however, that one of the major challenges is getting qualified teachers to teach the children in the country, which he noted the Federal Ministry of Education was trying to address, saying for now every parent wants his or her child to study Medicine, Law, Economics, Engineering and host of others.
He said a situation where as a teacher, one has to rely on support from other members of the family in almost everything, be it marriage, child education among others has to be corrected.
According to the 2018 National Personnel Audit (NPA) report on Public and Private Basic Education Schools in Nigeria, Nigeria has shortage of 277, 537 teachers.
The personnel audit conducted by the Universal Basic Education Commission, further indicated that while 73 per cent of those teaching in public schools are qualified teachers, only 53 per cent of teachers in private schools are qualified to teach, that is those that have the minimum requirement of Nigeria Certificate in Education (NCE) and above.
Bobboyi said: “Our hope is that with the current reforms that are being put in place where you attract the best candidates into the teaching profession and compensate them adequately, the narrative will change.
In many countries and I was in Singapore and they told me that you are better off as a teacher than a medical doctor if it is about money. It is the same thing in Finland,”.
He added that teaching in other countries is competitive where a teacher is at least making a decent living and being supported by the state, noting that even in Nigeria during the earlier days, teachers were not necessarily receiving huge salaries per se but there were a lot of fringe benefits accruing to them-house, car, and respectability in family and society.
On the issue of equity, the UBEC boss said the Commission has been working on how to see that those children who are left on their own or whose parents have not been able to fund their education and those with special needs are accommodated in the school system.
He disclosed that 2 per cent UBEC funding goes to special needs education, which is about N2.1 billion each year that is disbursed to states. He acknowledged that the money was small when compared to the number of children with special needs while also lamenting that most often the usage of the money by states were not strategic to make a difference.
“The key element is that most states are not even adding any funding to support what the Federal Government is providing.