FEDERAL Government yesterday urged rulers and religious leaders to join forces to reduce the number of out-of-school children estimated at 10.1 million by the 2018 National Personnel Audit conducted by the Universal Basic Education Commission.
This is as the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) called for an end to the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) strike.
CAN also demanded the return of mission schools to their original owners as a way to arrest the gradual erosion of values and morals in schools.
Executive Secretary of Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) Dr Hamid Bobboyi and Secretary-General of CAN Joseph Daramola spoke in Abuja at a one-day consultative meeting of National Planning Committee on 2022 National Personnel Audit (NPA) with religious leaders on modalities for the conduct of NPA in basic education institutions.
The first phase of the school census exercise would commence on June 6 in the South.
Bobboyi, represented by Deputy Executive Secretary (Services) Dr. Isiaka Kolawole acknowledged the roles played by traditional rulers and religious leaders in implementation of Universal Basic Education (UBE) in the country.
He urged them to collaborate with the government in addressing the challenge of out-of-school children while ensuring that quality basic education was delivered to the citizenry.
The UBEC chief said the dearth of data on basic education had remained a challenge to its implementation as education planners and decision-makers had to make do with data that were not up-to-date or falsified.
He said it was against this backdrop that the commission, with states and FCT Universal Basic Education boards, conducted national personal audits in 2006, 2010 and 2018, adding that the 2018 exercise was more comprehensive as it covered all categories of public and private education institutions, unlike previous exercises that were limited to public schools.
The UBEC chief said: “We are in the process of conducting another audit of educational institutions offering full or elements of basic education. This is for the purpose of collecting school data on enrolment, personnel, and facilities, among others.
“The importance of up-to-date, accurate and reliable data in planning and implementation of educational programmes cannot be over-emphasised.
“Data enables us to plan effectively towards systematic achievement of educational objectives, track progress made, identify strengths and weaknesses of implementation strategies, and form the basis for making informed decisions.”
Deputy Executive Secretary (Technical) UBEC, and Chairman of 2022 NPA National Planning Committee, Prof Bala Zakari, solicited for the cooperation of religious leaders, especially in the area of mass mobilisation and sensitisation of the heads of their various schools nationwide in readiness for the exercise.
The Secretary-General of CAN, Daramola, speaking at the consultative meeting, decried the gradual erosion of the nation’s cherished values and morals in schools with examination malpractice becoming a norm in many schools across the country.
He said it was unfortunate that it is no longer only students that are involved in examination malpractice but parents and teachers are also culprits in this, urging government and regulatory authorities to be firm on issues of discipline.
He said: “We commend the states that have given back the mission schools to the original owners. The government has failed to properly run the schools which is why everyone is yearning to have the schools back. We appeal to the government that they should return the mission schools, both Christian and Muslim, to the original owners to bring back morals.
“If morals are being taught in schools, armed robbery, brigandage, terrorists, and banditry would be a thing of the past. Parents too should stop rushing to schools for any slightest correction being made on their children.”
On strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), the CAN scribe called on the Federal Government and ASUU to without further delay agree to end the strike.
He urged the Federal Government to look into the plight of ASUU and accede to their demands while also urging ASUU to take it easy with the government in view of the current economic condition all over the world.
The CAN scribe noted that it was the parents and students that bear the brunt of the prolonged strike, adding that many of the students who are idle have taken to crimes and criminality including banditry “because an idle hand is the devil’s workshop.”