BY EMMANUEL EDUKUGHO
IMPLEMENTATION of the Universal Basic Education (UBE) programme is being threatened by states that are not accessing their matching grant.

The Executive Secretary, Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), Dr. Ahmed Modibbo Mohammed has told the second quarterly meeting of Management with Executive Chairmen of State Universal Basic Education Boards (SUBEBs) in 2011 in Makurdi, Benue State, that states which do not access their Matching Grants are drawing UBE programme implementation backward.

He disclosed that UBEC has received N184,071 billion as Matching Grants since 2005 and disbursed N113,919 billion to states and FCT representing 76.93 per cent access.

Reiterating that unaccessed funds remained N34,152 billion as at 6th July 2011, he stressed that distortions in basic education delivery were caused by states that do not access their Matching Grants.

Dr. Ahmed Modibbo...states not accessing matching grants

According to Dr.Modibbo, the Federal Government Statutory Allocation of UBE Matching Grant to states and FCT for 2011 is N872,527,306.70 so far, two quarters (ie. 50 per cent) have been received and the counterpart funds of the states and the FCT stand at N436,263,653.35 for 1st and 2nd quarters of 2011.

AS regards the 13th financial monitoring of the 36 states and the FCT in compliance with section 9 (g) of the UBE Act of 2004, he said the objectives of this exercise were to ensure judicious utilisation of funds, determine compliance with the approved action plans and provide the basis for the disbursement of intervention fund.

The UBEC Executive Secretary expressed concern over cases of missing payment vouchers, payment of mobilisation fee above 15 per cent, servicing of Bank Loans with UBE-intervention funds, non-deduction of taxes, non-remittance or irregular remittance and non-implementation of e-payment, diversion of funds, poor payment documentation and high level of utilised funds among others.

In a press release issued by David Apeh, PPRO UBEC, it was stated that the Acting Chairman, Benue State SUBEB, Dr. David Tsevende, in his welcome address at the meeting, said the Universal Basic Education programme is on course in Benue, pointing out that since its inception in 1999, the state has provided “unfettered access to free Basic Education to over two million children of school age who hitherto were unable to acquire Basic Education on account of either poor economic background, disability or ethno-religious stereotype.”

The Universal Basic Education Act (2004) provides for compulsory, free universal basic education for all children of primary and junior secondary school age in Nigeria. It also stipulates penalties for parents who fail to comply with its provisions.

The UBE programme was introduced by the Federal Government to “remove distortions and inconsistencies in basic education delivery and reinforce the implementation of the National Policy on Education as well as to provide greater access to, and ensure quality of basic education throughout Nigeria.”

The UBE Act 2004 stipulates that: The Federal Government’s intervention shall only be an assistance to the states and local governments for the purposes of uniform and qualitative basic education throughout Nigeria. The Act covers:

(i) Early Childhood Care Development and Education (ECCDE)

(ii) Six years of Primary Education

(iii) Three years of Junior Secondary education.

There will be compulsory, uninterrupted nine years of primary and junior secondary school education, provision of mid-day meals to enhance children’s access, retention and completion of the school cycle.

Emphasis on curriculum diversification and relevance to effectively and adequately cover individual and community needs and aspirations.

Disarticulating of junior secondary schools from senior secondary schools, realignment/integration of Junior Secondary education with primary education, individualised teaching methods and introduction of rudiments of computer literacy.

The UBE programme is financed through:

*Not less than 2 per cent of the consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) of the Federal Government;

* Funds/Contributions in form of Federal Government Guaranteed Credits;

*Local/International grants

*Formula for the disbursement of the 2 per cent Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) is as follows:

1.  Matching Grant to States on equality basis – 75 per cent

2.  Grants to states identified as weak to support special programmes designed to rectify imbalance in basic education development to last till 2015  – 14 per cent

3.  Grants to states that have been adjudged as performing well in accordance with set criteria as incentive – 5 pe cent.

4.  Special Grant to states and other providers to assist in the education of the physically and mentally challenged – 2 per cent

5.  Special Grant to states for School Feeding programme to increase enrolment, retention and nutritional level of children as well as their cognitive development  – 2 per cent

6.  UBE Commission Implementation Fund – 2 per cent.

Among the conditions for accessing UBE Matching Grant are opening of separate Bank Accounts by the State Universal Basic Education Boards with the Central Bank titled: “UBE Matching Grant Account,” evidence of lodgement of states’ counterpart contribution in compliance with Section 11 (2) of the UBE Act.

Also development and submission of State Action plan to UBE Commission for approval in compliance with a requirement imposed by the Federal Executive Council.

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