FG seeks more synergy with states on revival of education sector

THE federal government has disclosed that there are ongoing consultations with state governments on how to jointly ensure that the education sector is revived in the country.

The permanent secretary, Ministry of Education,  Sonny Echono, who made this known said for any meaningful development to take place in the education sector, both the federal and state governments must be on the same page.

He spoke when he received the governor of Kwara State, Mr Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq, in his office in Abuja, disclosing that the visit was in connection with the ongoing consultations with state governments.

He said the states needed to key into the ministerial strategic plan for the education sector which has been developed by the ministry.

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He said that there were notable challenges observed in Kwara State and that having a new government there was an opportunity to discuss those issues in order to resolve them quickly for the benefit of the sector.

He said: “Four over years now, Kwara is one of the states that have not been able to access the Universal Basic Education matching grant. For some of the challenges, we have been able to identity and proffer solutions.

“We had very useful discussions with Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC). I attended their board meeting today and advised them on how we can achieve our ultimate objectives of improving access, quality as well as strengthening our system in order to deliver quality education to our people,” Echono said.

In his remarks, The governor said he was at the federal ministry of Education to solicit the Federal Government’s support in his effort to rebuild schools in Kwara State.

He lamented that the state had been blacklisted and could not access the federal government matching grant from the Universal Basic Education Commission in the last four years.

He explained that the state was blacklisted because the previous administration misappropriated N1.5 billion released by UBEC to it for infrastructural development at the basic level of education.

Abdulrazaq disclosed that the state now has accumulated fund to the tune of N5.6 billion with UBEC which has not been accessed.

He said: “We are here in connection with capacity building, to see how we can get help from the federal government through the Federal Ministry of Education.

“We have issues with our education system. We have not accessed UBEC intervention for about four years. We want to make sure we are compliant. Our discussions have been fruitful and very soon, we will start accessing UBEC Fund.”

“We had access to N1.5 billion from UBEC and the previous government borrowed N1.5 billion to pay the counterpart fund but as soon as UBEC money came, they refunded the N1.5 billion to the bank  and misappropriated the N1.5 billion from UBEC.

“The money was not used for what it was meant for. So, UBEC got wind of it and demanded for immediate refund of the N1.5 billion. The state government refunded N1 billion and the N450 million is now outstanding.

“So, we have been blacklisted. Until we pay the N450 million, we can’t access further funds from UBEC. We are going to pay back so that we can access the fund. We have about N5.6 billion to access,” he said.

He said the state needed the money to fix schools because they in “very bad shape”, adding that “we need the fund to rebuild our schools.”

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