By Felix Khanoba
The House of Representatives has lamented poor capital releases to Federal Ministry of Education in the 2019 budget, saying there is no justification for the present poor funding of education in the country.
The House’s Committee on Basic Education and Services said the release of only N25.2billion (42.9percent) out of the N58.6bn captured in the 2019 Appropriation Act for the ministry was below expectations.
Chairman of the committee, Hon. Julius Ihonvbere, made this known in Abuja on Tuesday when he led members of the committee to an oversight function to the ministry.
“If you get less than 50 percent capital releases, it means our education sector is grossly underfunded especially in view of what is happening in the North-East zone,” Ihonvbere said.
The committee chair expressed the readiness of the House to work with the ministry to chart a better path for the nation’s education sector.
“It is an embarrassment that we still find children that will still seat on the floor in classrooms…, it is a shame that you will go to school and there are only two teachers. The political class and the ruling class should feel embarrassed,” he said.
Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, who briefed the lawmakers on the 2019 budget performance, appealed that at least 15per cent of the national budget should be channelled to education in subsequent budgets in other to tackle the present challenges in the sector.
“The sum of N84.7billion was allocated to education sector in 2020 Appropriation Act. You may wish to note that the education sector is one of the largest ministries in the entire public service.
“It is made up of 19 parastatals, 43 universities, five inter-university centres, 25 federal polytechnics, 21 federal colleges of education and 104 federal unity colleges,” the minister said.
While saying the present administration is working to ensure there is at least one federal polytechnic and college of education in all states in the country, the minister revealed that two new polytechnics would soon take-off in Daura, Katsina State and Katungo, Gombe State.
Adamu said the ministry was able to raise N46.5billion as an Internally Generated Revenue in 2019 through tender fees, registration of institute, auction sales, among others.
On the out-of-school challenges bedevilling the country, Adamu said the ministry has adopted strategies that would be implemented in 2020 to address the problem.
These he listed as conditional cash transfer, scholarships, aggressive enrolment for girl-child, setting up of taskforce to pick up children on streets during school hours, locate their parents for arrest and prosecution, among others.