The Executive Secretary, Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), Dr Hamid Bobboyi, has revealed that Nigeria had a shortage of 277, 537 teachers at the basic level, according to a National Personnel Audit (NPA) it conducted on Public and Private Basic Education Schools in the country.
In a statement issued by the commission’s Head of Public Relations and Protocol, Mr David Apeh, and made available to newsmen, in Abuja, on Sunday, Bobboyi said that the NPA indicated that while 73 per cent of those teaching in public schools were qualified teachers, only 53 per cent of teachers in private schools were qualified to teach.
“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.” He noted that it was essential for teachers to be trained professionally, hence the need to prioritise quality of teaching. According to him, one of the major challenges was getting qualified teachers, to teach the children in the country, though the Federal Ministry of Education was trying to address this.
In realisation of the importance of teachers in the provision of quality education, Bobboyi said, the commission had designated 10 per cent of the entire amount it received from the Consolidated Revenue Fund to 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.
On instructional materials, the Executive Secretary said because achieving quality education was dependent on the quality of resources, UBEC voted 15 per cent of the entire amount received from the Consolidated Revenue Fund annually, for the purchase of instructional materials for distribution to schools. He said the expectation was that state governments would complement this effort by acquiring textbooks for their own schools, especially textbooks in key subjects.
On the issue of equity, the UBEC boss said the Commission had been working on a plan that would ensure that those children, who were left on their own or whose parents have been able to fund their education, in addition to those with special needs, were accommodated in the public school system. He said two per cent of UBEC funding was allocated to special needs education, which translated to about N2.1 billion annually disbursed to states.
While acknowledging that the money was small when compared to the number of children with special needs, he lamented that the problem was more of the states’ inability to use the money strategically to make a difference. Bobboyi appealed to stakeholders in the education sector to join hands with the Federal Government in strengthening the quality of teaching and learning at the basic level of education so as to ensure that graduates were globally competitive.
He added that, though the year 2020 was very challenging, due to the COVID-19 pandemic that led to the lockdown of the country, including the closure of schools, for the most part, the commission had been working hard in many areas, including support for the provision of e-learning and other measures in response to the pandemic.