PUNCH has learned that 24 states across the country are currently battling a shortage of 260,551 classrooms in public elementary schools.

The figure was included in data from the Commission for Universal Basic Education obtained by this reporter on Thursday.

UBEC is a federal government agency responsible for coordinating all aspects of the implementation of the Universal Basic Education Programme, which was launched in 1999 as a reform programme to increase opportunities and ensure the quality of basic education throughout Nigeria.

In documents obtained by UBEC on Thursday, the committee highlighted some of the factors contributing to the growing number of out-of-school children in Nigeria.

It reads: “On the demand side, at least five main reasons can be named. First, there is a negative perception of the importance and value of education due to stagnant quality. Low quality is the result of low quality teachers.

“Second, the low status of learning culture limits children’s access to basic education, especially girls in rural areas who are educated through early marriages.

“Third, poverty and low rural incomes, exemplified by national economic indicators, often limit the ability of parents to support their children’s education. Fourth, the need to support family well-being encourages child labor. This creates a negative impact on parents’ willingness to encourage their children to receive basic education. negative impact.

“Fifth, because of opportunity costs, low-income families are forced to prioritise menial jobs for their children over basic education.”

UBEC lists the states with public elementary classroom shortages as follows: Kano has 52,176 shortages, Katsina has 33,241, Akwa-Ibom has 22,204, Kaduna has 22,138, Oyo has 17,914 and Imo has 14,318.

The others are Ondo -13,373; Jigawa -10,680; Bauchi -10,583; Yobe -8,985; Sokoto -8,470; Borno -7,888; Mawa-4,280; Niger-4,069; Taraba-3,689; Lagos-3,513; Anambra-1,972; FCT-1,655; Ebony-947; Ogun-884;

As far as UBEC’s role is concerned, the agency noted that it is “discussing federal funding for state intervention in a formulaic manner to enable them to implement tangible state-priority-based programs; construction of new schools and additional classrooms. ; Refurbish and restore existing school facilities; Provide furniture and equipment to bring more children to school and improve the quality of education.”

Speaking to our reporter on the matter, Ayodamola Oluwatoyin, director of the Nigeria Reform Education Project, said: “Unfortunately, in 2022, we are still talking about a shortage of classrooms in public schools across the country. This shows how politicians approach mass education.

“When kids go to school, they can’t get into the classroom, you see them back on the street, and then you talk about out-of-school kids. We need to make education a priority in this country. Education is the cornerstone of any society.”

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