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WORRISOME……. Disquiet over UBEC’s N16.4bn free books

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WORRISOME....... Disquiet over UBEC's N16.4bn free books

School Pupils

Stakeholders are wor­ried stiff over the go­ings-on at the Uni­versal Basic Education Commission (UBEC).

The concern follows the failure of the commission to deliver free books to schools for two years, despite a budg­et of over N16 billion which it received for the exercise.
Stakeholders are now wondering what UBEC has done with the billions.
UBEC had received the money to procure and dis­tribute books and other in­structional materials to public primary and junior secondary schools in the country for the 2015 and 2016 academic sessions.
The commission is stat­utorily required to use 15 percent of its total revenue to provide books and oth­er instructional materials free for schools yearly un­der the Universal Basic Ed­ucation (UBE) scheme.
ROYAL NEWS however learnt that for two years the commission has not distributed a single book to any state for the 2015 and 2016 academic sessions.
Investigations revealed that the commission re­ceived N64.8 billion in 2015 and N44.8 billion in 2016 from the two percent Fed­eral Government’s Consol­idated Revenue Fund.
A source in the Federal Ministry of Education told ROYAL NEWS that  the last distribution of instructional materials by UBEC to State Universal Ba­sic Education Boards (SUB­EBs) was the 2014 compo­nent for junior secondary schools.
The delay in the distribu­tion of the instructional ma­terials is said to have com­pounded the woes of public primary and junior sec­ondary schools, following the refusal of most states to pay their matching grants to access the over N50 bil­lion fund meant for the im­provement of basic educa­tion, that now lies idle in UBEC coffers.
Teachers who spoke on the ugly development dur­ing a recent visit to some public schools in Kubwa, Dawaki and Dutsen-Alhaji axis of Abuja, expressed concern over the dwindling impact of the much-touted UBEC scheme.
A teacher, who craved anonymity, said: “For two years now, neither the school nor the pupils have received the free books from UBEC through FCT UBEB as it used to be. None of the structures you see in this school was built in recent years despite the growing population of pupils. It’s like the impact of the UBE is go­ing down, which is not good for the education sector.”
However, an official of UBEC who spoke on the development, said that the commission is doing eve­rything possible to ensure that all the necessary in­structional materials are procured and distributed to schools in a transparent manner.
He said: “You may wish to note that UBEC under­takes such exercises fol­lowing due processes. Cur­rently, the procedure for procurement and distribu­tion of instructional mate­rials to schools under the 2015/2016 funding arrange­ment has commenced with the announcement and col­lection of bid documents by eligible publishers.
“So, it is not correct to make a claim that UBEC is unable to distribute instruc­tional materials to schools for 2015/2016”.
ROYAL NEWS reports that before now, the distribution of instruction­al materials to SUBEBs had been enmeshed in one prob­lem or the other, particularly the diversion of the books to markets, even as N27 billion was said to have been used in the provision of textbooks and library resource materi­als to schools between 2011 and 2013.
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