By Favour Nnabugwu
…Warns officials against sale of N14m free books
PRESIDENT Goodluck Jonathan has flagged off the distribution of 14 million textbooks and library resources valued at N4.9 billion to primary and junior secondary schools across the nation as the Federal Government warned against the sale of the free textbooks anywhere in the country.
Jonathan was represented by the Vice-President, Arc. Namadi Sambo at the event in Abuja recently for the symbolic distribution of textbooks including English, Social Studies and Basic Science and Technology for primaries 1 and II and Library Resource materials for Junior Secondary Schools across the country, said the initiative was in line with the commitment of his administration to encourage reading culture amongst youths while at the same time encouraging high quality of learning.
He said education constitutes an important component of the government’s transformation agenda, assuring that his administration will continue to provide needed support to lay strong foundation for basic education in the country.
Jonathan who noted that procurement of instructional materials has been the feature of basic education, however, urged stakeholders to ensure that the books get to the right pupils in order to add value to their education.
Chairman, Senate Committee on Education, Senator Uche Chukwumerije, in his remark, urged the government to ensure that professional and qualified teachers were engaged to guide the pupils for efficient utilisation of the instructional materials.
He said it would be meaningless spending huge amount of money on procurement of instructional materials without the requisite people that would teach it.
On her part, the Minister of Education, Professor Ruqayyatu Ahmed Rufa’i said the administration had discovered that the major cause of decadence in the education sector was the lack of instructional materials especially textbooks in schools. She noted a huge amount of funds has been invested in the provision of the books and library resources.
According to her, in 2010, 24.5 million textbooks worth nearly N10 billion were provided for primaries 1-3, while in 2011, a total of N5.1 billion was expended in procuring over 15 million text books for primaries 1-2.
Also, in 2011, a total of 4.144 million library resource materials were acquired at the cost of N1.5 billion for junior secondary school pupils.
Handing down the warning at the ceremony which took place at the Model Primary School, Maitama, the Minister of State for Education, Barrister Nyesom Wike cautioned that the books should not by any means be sold anywhere in the country but given freely to the beneficiaries.
Wike who directly supervises basic education sector, said there have been reported cases of uneven distribution of the free books to pupils, just as some officials have been found to deliberately abandon the text books in their ware houses to rot away.
He noted, “The textbooks are meant to be given out free of charge to the pupils, thus the distribution must be carried out in the most efficient and effective manner by UBEC and SUBEBs.
He cautioned, “The Ministry of Education will neither accept nor tolerate the malady of the past were such textbooks were either found being sold in the open market despite the branded inscriptions against such unwholesome practices or left unutilized in the storerooms of schools unprotected from destruction by water, mold and pests.”
He noted that some of the impediments to quality education in the country have been the scarcity of appropriate textbooks and instructional materials, adding that the private sector should leverage on the modest achievement of government to build a robust book industry.