By Stanley Onyekwere
It has become imperative to have alternative way of funding Basic Education in Abuja, the nation’s capital city, according to the the Permanent Secretary, Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA), Sir Chinyeaka Christian Ohaa.
Ohaa expressed worries over the challenges of inadequate funding bedeviling public schools in the Territory.
According to him, challenging economic situation has encouraged many parents to withdraw their children from private institutions and enroll them in public schools which has result to over stretched facilities and this puts a lot of pressure on government to provide amenities, in terms of classrooms, school furniture, instructional materials and so on.
He made this known yesterday at the FCTA Education Secretariat Stakeholders’ Conference on Funding of Public Schools and Skils Acquisition Centres in FCT, with the theme: “Seeking Sustainable Option so for Funding of Public Schools/Vocational Centers in the FCT.”
“The need to seek for alternative sources of funding outside of government subsections has therefore become imperative. Government alone cannot and indeed should not be left alone to fund education.
“It is therefore gratifying to note that the focus of this conference is to address issues concerning the proper manage of school resources, and also seek other options for the adequate funding of FCT public schools and vocational centers”, Ohaa
The Permanent Secretary, said the focus of this conference is to address issues concerning the proper management of school resources and also seek other options for the adequate funding of FCT public schools and vocational centres.
He however urged the participants to make meaningful presentations and contributions in oder to come up with a satisfactory framework that will not only ensuremoptimal utilization of funds, but also provide sustainable options for funding of schools and vocational centres while ensuring accountability and transparency in the management of resources by the schools.
Earlier in his welcome address, the Mandate Secretary for Education, Dr. Bala Liman said the conference was conceived after a carefull consideration of the myriad of complaints and reports in the media on school fee charges in the FCT public school system.
Liman said, “The issues that the Education Secretariat was confronted with which required urgent interventions includes: To determine and justify how free education is in the territory in the light of some charges pupils/students have to pay in public basic schools; Defending the variations in school charges among bacsic Primary/Junior schools.
“Also, defending why some of the charges are collected in cash while others are through banks; Examining the level of application and utilization of funds by schools and; Verifying the integrity of both the internal and external control and accounting procedures and processes”.
He however noted that, “It therefore became necessary that a conference of all relevant stakeholders be convened to examine the extent to which the issues listed above impact on education delivery in the public schools/vocational centers and to consider the broader issue of funding options for these schools/vocational centers in order for them to avoid the temptation to engage in the unwholesome practices, and more importantly to provide them resources for optimal performance.
“The significance of this conference derives from the fact that FCTA public schools/vocational centers cannot be allowed to engage in charging illegal fees or other unprofessional conducts, given the resources which government and partners cagencies are providing for infrastructure and other services.”
Meanwhile, the President of All Nigeria Confederation of Principals of Secondary Schools (ANCOPSS), Abdulraham Adbulkarim noted that despite poor funding in many areas, FCT schools are making waves worldwide and have won many accolades.
ANCOPSS said there is the need for government to live upto its responsibility by improving on the percentage budgetary allocation to education as specified by UNESCO.
The FCT has 236 schools 169 junior secondary schools, 62 senior secondary schools , 5 science and technical schools.