MDGs: FG Distributes 3 Million Free Exercise Books For Indigent Pupils

By Israel Goodway

In its unflinching efforts to attain the mandatory targets of Goal 2 of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) framework that bothers on the delivery of Universal Basic Education to numerous school age in the society, The Office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on MDGs yesterday distributed three million copies of MDGs branded free exercise books to indigent pupils across the country.

The distribution of the free exercise books was aimed at easing the burden of the benefiting poor families as well as stimulate the interest of the pupils to embrace education thereby quitting the street.

Speaking at the event, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on MDGs, Mrs. Precious Gbeneol said that government untiring efforts in the educational sector was yielding positive results, stressing that the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) report of 2013 showed that in 2012, primary school attendance ratio was 71.0 per cent which represents 10 per cent improvement in comparison to 2008.

She added that 83.9 percent was in urban area, while 63.4 per cent was in rural area, nothing that secondary school net attendance ratio was about 54. 8 per cent, while rural accounted for 46.2 per cent.

She further stated that Grade 6 (six) completion rate was about 87.7 per cent, representing about 5.7 per cent increase compared with the 2004 figure and 12.3 per cent lower than the MDG benchmark. A further breakdown of the figure shows that completion rate was about 81.5 per cent in the urban area and 90.5 cent in the rural area.

The Presidential adviser explained that in achieving Goal 2, government has also deployed Debit Relief Gains (DRG) to fund projects and initiatives in the education with a focus on the issues of quality, capacity, access and relevance.

According to her, through the DRG, "in 2011 and 2012, a total sum N26.1billion was invested in 261 local governments area with the execution of more than 15, 000 high impact MDGs related projects across the country in the education, income generation, agriculture, health, water and sanitation sectors"

"There has been a successful execution of 12, 342 water and sanitation projects nationwide with the construction, renovation and equipping of 5, 206 health facilities. About 68, 430 health workers were trained to provide the much needed skilled health services at the grassroots; funding was also made available to 1, 704 beneficiaries to aid agricultural enterprise start-up". She added.

Gbeneol noted that through the support to the National Teachers Institute (NTI) and UBEC for the Federal Teachers Scheme (FTS), MDGs has trained and retrained an average of 120, 000 teachers annually from 2006 till date, the scheme she said was meant to provide teachers with requisite skills and to be able to impart same knowledge to their students, adding that 672,135 primary school teachers have benefited since 2006.

She stressed further that, about 40, 000 teachers and 5,000 science teachers are recruited every two years under the FTS and were posted to states according to their needs.

Gbeneol also said MDGs has made available over N113.75 billion of debt relief to the Federal Ministry of Education from 2006 to date to implement various programmes and projects bothering on girl child education.

Speaking, Executive Secretary, Universal Basic Education Commission, (UBEC) Mr. Dikko Abdullahi represented by Mr. Pius Osaghae said the provision of the free exercise books would go a long way in ameliorating the life of the indigent pupils and their parents.

He assured the SSAP-MDGs that UBEC, which is partnering the Office of the Senior Special Assistant on MDGs in the distribution will ensure that the exercise books are effectively distributed to the intended pupils through the State Universal Basic Education Board, SUBEB platform.