The Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) has alleged that some private schools were posing a serious challenge to the ongoing nationwide National Personnel Audit of all Basic Education institutions.
Dr Hamid Bobboyi, Executive Secretary, UBEC, revealed this while monitoring the audit exercise with newsmen in AMAC, Bwari and Gwagwalada Area Councils in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) on Wednesday.
Bobboyi, however, said that despite the challenges, the commission was so far satisfied with the exercise and optimistic about the outcome, adding that strategies were being put in place to surmount the challenges.
According to him, the commission is very happy with the progress being made so far on the exercise.
“We need to understand that this is the first time in the history of the personnel audit where private schools have been included in the entire process.
“Whenever you start something new you encounter problems; we had this issue also in the southern part of the country where you have a greater percentage of private schools.
“In Lagos, it took quiet sometime despite the fact that several meetings were held with various stakeholders including the National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools (NAPPS) three months before the commencement of the exercise.
“But there are certain areas where you have different groupings because these are private institutions and one can decide not to be a member of NAPPS and say my school will not participate in the exercise.
“For instance in Lagos alone we had to interact with 25 different operators. So it requires continuous interaction to ensure that they understand the purpose of the exercise.
“ It has nothing to do with taxation, all we are looking for is the data on the number of students, staff, schools, and qualification of teachers etc, to help with effective planning in the sub-sector.’’
Similarly, Dr Mahmud Abubakar, Chairman, Governing Board, UBEC, confirmed the challenges with some private schools who believed the exercise had to do with taxation or the quality of their schools.
Abubakar said that the purpose of the exercise was to collect data for the purpose of planning and the data would not be complete without data from both public and private schools.
He said the exercise has been going on smoothly in public schools; so far we are happy with the situation, the UBEC, SUBEBS, NAPPS and all the agencies collaborating with us are here to ensure we get all the data that we need.
“As a way of overcoming this challenge with these private schools, we have the NAPPS that will talk to them, also the Education Secretariat here in the FCT will also reach out to them,’’ he said.
The UBEC Coordinator of Gwagwalada Area Council, Olawunmi Francisca, who spoke with newsmen, confirmed the challenges they faced with some private schools.
According to her, some of the private schools refused our staff from entering into their schools and teachers even go as far as hiding and telling the children to tell us they are not around.
Francisca, however, said the UBEC officials were working closely with the NAPPS in the area council, adding that the association had tried its best to sensitise the school owners on the importance and need to be captured in the exercise.
She added that another challenge they had in the area council was with some difficult terrains, which made movement difficult, however, they had found ways to overcome it by reaching the schools in such areas with motorcycles.
Also speaking, Mrs Stella Omuta, Chairperson, NAPPS, Gwagwalada area council, stressed the need for private schools to be included in the government planning policies.
Omuta said the association had tried to sensitise private school owners on the need to be captured in the audit exercise whether they were registered with NAPPS or not.
“We have close to 250 private schools in Gwagwalada area council but on our list we have 157, which means they are hiding.
“We want to encourage them to come out and see the need to be captured for effective planning.’’
Similarly, Mrs Abive Okwah, the UBEC officer, Bwari area council, complained about a lack of cooperation by some private schools.
According to her, officials are being insulted, gates have been closed on us and the number of private schools on ground is higher than what we have on paper.
“We believe some of them have unqualified teachers that is why they are proving difficult,’’ she said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that some of the schools visited include Government Junior Secondary School, Garki; Hagil Sa’id Model Basic Education School, Gwagwalada; UBEB LEA Primary School Abbattoir, Kutunku, Gwagwalada and LEA Primary School, Dwaki, Bwari.
NAN also reports that the National Personnel Audit, which is in two phases commenced from April 29 to May 27 in all the states in the southern part of the country.
While the second phase commenced from June 3 to June 20 in all the states in the northern part of the country.