By Boco Edet Abdul
ABUJA, Nigeria- More than 80 key players across sectors of education, finance and economic planning from Bauchi and Sokoto states of Northern Nigeria have agreed that basic education, particularly early grade reading and non-formal education will be prioritized in fiscal budget allocations for 2018.
This was contained in communiques issued at the end of a one-day roundtable convened by the Northern Education Initiative Plus in Abuja on September 28, 2017 for Sokoto state and October 5, 2017 for Bauchi state.
Key state-based government partners from the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Budget and Economic Planning, Ministry of Finance, Ministry for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, State House of Assembly, State Universal Basic Education Board, State Agency for Mass Education, Local Government Councils and the Dean of Local Government Education Secretaries were all represented at the high-profile event.
After declaring a state of emergency in education, the Government of Sokoto state allocated nearly 28 percent of its 2017 budget to education totaling $106 million while Bauchi state’s fund for education was 26 percent at $76 million. However, priority was given to secondary and tertiary education over basic education and actual releases were not timely and sufficient to impact on the quality of education.
The roundtable meeting addressed such concerns and committed the Governments of Bauchi and Sokoto states to sustained budgetary allocation and release for basic education particularly key activities implemented by the USAID funded Northern Education Initiative Plus.
In the communiques, both state governments accepted to budget and release funds to support implementation of key components of the project including teacher training, procurement and distribution of textbooks and school supervision to the tune of 30 percent in 2018.
The communiques signed separately by the Commissioner of Basic & Secondary Education for Sokoto State Dr. Muhammad Jabbi Kilgori, Permanent Secretary, Bauchi State Ministry of Education Nasir Yalwa and Chief of Party Northern Education Initiative Plus Dr. James Statman also clearly identified strategies to ensure timely release of these funds.
Participants at the roundtable agreed that to increase execution and performance of budgets for timely implementation of project activities, states will “prepare clear work plans with timelines, encourage high level advocacy to policy makers, legislators and State Planning Commission to ensure full funding as agreed in the Memorandum of Understanding and encourage effective supervision from all other key stakeholders.”
The Northern Education Initiative Plus implemented by Creative Associates International in Bauchi and Sokoto States has trained nearly 13,000 teachers and learning facilitators to improve literacy and numeracy skills for more than 700,000 children in both schools and Non-Formal Learning Centers through an innovative Early Grade Reading curriculum targeting pupils in first to third grades and a basic literacy program for out-of-school-children.
Noting the significant progress being made in improving learning outcomes for children, participants also pledged to scale up implementation of activities to other local governments not supported by the project.
“Despite dwindling financial resources, states will in forthcoming fiscal years continue to prioritize funding to basic education for the Ministry and its agencies to deliver on their mandates,” the communiques said.
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