Education Reform: Senate Asks FG To Raise N500b Bond

Source: EMMA UCHE -
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ABUJA, Feb 07, (THEWILL) - The Senate today bemoaned the decadence in the educational sector and consequently demanded that the Federal Government must as a matter of urgency raise N500billion bond to put the sector back on track.

The Senate spoke through the Senate Committee on Education at the 2011 budget defense hearing in Abuja. It said the bond is urgently required to address the age long decadence in the sector.

Chairman of the Committee, Senator Uche Chukumerije conveyed the demand at the hearing, which had in attendance parastatals in the education sector.

He said, "Recently, the Asset Management Company (AMCON) announced plans to raise about N2.5 trillion to deal with the bad loans problems of the banking sector. In my view however, dealing with the issues in our educational sector is equally a national priority and we should allow the sector to raise a bond of no less than N500 billion to provide funds for the repositioning of the sector," the senator said.

He lamented that, "the education sector is not just deteriorating but is in fact in shambles" adding that the sector requires a marshal plan.

He blamed the sector's plight on decades of wrong prioritization, warning that the long neglect of the nation's education sector will sooner than later confront our future with a grim harvest."

According to him the Committee appreciated the challenges facing the sector and the need for more funding, saying, "Given the state of our educational institutions and the goals of achieving Vision 2020, we need to lay the foundation by making it absolutely necessary to raise more money for the sector."

In the 2011 budget estimate now before the National Assembly, a sum of N339, 481,528,685 was proposed for the education sector out of which N279, 314,140,364 is for personnel cost, N25, 078,491,409 is for overhead cost and N35, 088,896,911 is for capital expenditure.

Breakdown of the budget further showed that N7, 248,537,091 is for Federal Ministry of Education and additional sum of N3, 132,588 for capital projects; N2, 228,537,697 for Joint Admission Board (JAMB); N1, 109,379,300 for West African Examination Council (WAEC); N5, 966,778,261 is for University Basic Education (UBE).

Chukwumerije commended the 2011 budget proposal for the education sector, which he said, represents an increase of N68.3 billion or 25 percent increase over the 2010 budget for the sector.

He assured that to ensure adequate funding of the country's educational institutions, the amendment of the Education Trust Fund (ETF) Act would soon be completed, saying, "this is expected to provide more relief to the tertiary education sector." Saying this may still not be enough to deal with all the challenges, Chukwumerije advised all the departments and agencies under the Federal Ministry of Education to "strengthen measure that will boost internal revenue, international collaboration and competition to obtain research grants from all sources." MDAs are also expected to keep good records of their internally generated revenue", he said adding that, "the projected IGR for 2011 should be submitted to the committee for approval before it is expended as the committee has been passionate on the way institutions utilize their IGR because of the huge overhead expenses which cannot be totally funded from annual budget allocation."

Chukwumejie also assured MDAs of the National Assembly's commitment to address various problems including shortfalls in personnel cost and delay in the release of budgetary allocation.

In his presentation, Akingbade Agbaoye, Deputy Executive Secretary of National Universities Commission (NUC) requested for additional N30 billion in the 2011 budget, just as he lamented the non-release of money appropriated for the institutions by the Executive.