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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