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Jigawa surges up the education spending league

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The Universal Basic Education Intervention Fund (UBE-IF) established in 2005 is a key initiative to try to channel more of the Nigerian oil revenues directly to States to spend on schooling: classrooms, books and teacher training. Early implementation was plagued by fund flow hitches, corruption allegations and poor performance. A report commissioned found that by March 2008, 57% of funds (N54 billion, over US$ 350 million) was unused, while there are still millions of out of school children. See last year’s April Fools' post on the Education Trust Fund for a similar story of blocked money failing to reach its target.

Jigawa students need better Facilities
Jigawa students need better facilities

Continuing my ‘it ain’t so bad in Naija’ theme, it's pleasing to see a corner being turned in many States and money reaching where it needs to. Dr. Modibbo, Executive Secretary of the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), reported that the backlog of funds had dropped from 70 to 30 billion Naira within 12 months: the clearing of a back log of over US$ 250 million. The ‘carrot and stick’ approach includes Good Performance Awards, while naming and shaming States’ that can’t seem to spend money on schools.

Jigawa Commissioner of Education Prof. (Mrs) Ruqqaya Rufai
Jigawa Commissioner of Education Prof. Ruqqaya Rufai

Jigawa, a poor rural Northern State has completely turned around its dismal UBE record. Governor Lamido and the resolute Commissioner of Education, Prof. (Mrs) Ruqqaya Rufai, have cleared the funding backlog. Projects are proceeding smoothly and Jigawa surged from relegation zone material to top of the league performer by the end of 2009. Contracts valued at N2.6 Billion (£10 million) were awarded for classroom construction and furniture at 401 schools: much-needed space for thousands of students. Dropping in last June the Commissioner was too busy to talk to a DFID staff member like me: she was dealing with a tsunami wave of contractors in her office!

Getting the money to flow is especially important in Jigawa, to tackle some of the worst indicators in the country. A 2006 survey found that only 18 per cent of females and 35 per cent of males in the age group 15-19 had completed primary school. Hopefully this will go somewhere to alleviate the poverty and hardship that was being described to me so starkly at the Talakawa Summit by Jigawa’s ordinary citizens.

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  1. Comment by Sanusi Bature posted on

    Ian many thanks for this article, it really good and covered real situation.

  2. Comment by SEO ???? posted on

    The classroom in the photo is too simple and crude, study is the most important thing for children.

    God bless and best wishes for the country.

  3. Comment by Ranga Rao.M posted on

    UBE-IF is a novel allotment to the utmost useful purpose of providing basic education needs of millons of global people deprived of the basic education. I welcome it. This is like teaching the art of fishing instead of giving a fish. If I too can, in any way, be a part of it contributing to this devine cause, I will be happy to be with you.

  4. Comment by SEYI ODETOLA posted on

    we believe that this unique government responsible for overseas development must help develop readers club in Nigeria. By so doing, we are calling on Her Majesty Department to invite us for discussion on how best to implement thsi program. The program is presently being piloted in some private schools in Lagos State. Let improve our reading culture.

  5. Comment by Ian Attfield posted on

    Agree with SEO's comments that the classroom featured is too basic and bare, that's where improvements in construction, security (so displays on the inside walls are not destroyed) and training (teachers and school management) are all needed. The blue bags the children are clutching are actually from a DFID/UNICEF Girls Eduction Project, aimed at getting more kids into school.

    Seyi, the ESSPIN programme ( has an office in Lagos and are interested in improving the private schools that many ordinary Lagotians use. Encouraging reading through clubs and libraries is a great idea, please contact the Lagos office for more information, contacts on the website.

  6. Comment by Funding fix is good news for Nigerian children « World Education Blog posted on

    [...] things have changed, as Ian Attfield of the UK Department for International Development has noted. At the end of 2009 the backlog had been reduced considerably, releasing approximately $265 million [...]

  7. Comment by harish posted on

    Very interesting discussion glad that I came across such informative post. Keep up the good work friend. Glad to be part of your net community. Thanks. <a h