THE Universal Basic Education Board (UBEB) in Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory (FCT) has said basic education is not entirely free.
The Director at the FCT-UBEB, Bashir Abubakar, who represented the Chairman of the Board, Hassan Sule, made this known in a radio interview on Wednesday January 18 while reacting to a report by The ICIR.
“Universal Basic Education is free and compulsory. That is number one. The issue of charges, maybe they are talking about PTA charges. We have a slogan in UBEC: Education for all is a responsibility of all. Sometimes we say it is free, but not free 100 per cent. Why? Because a parent is expected to provide the uniform for the child,” he said.
Abubakar pointed out, however, that students were not mandated to purchase uniforms from the school as they could be sourced in the open market.
“The government employs teachers; we provide books, we provide so many other materials for the school. It is part of collaboration. There is no way you will say government should take care of 100 per cent of everything,” he said.
He added that students in the FCT schools also pay levies agreed upon by the Parents-Teachers Association (PTA) and approved by the board, although he described this as a form of support and not mandatory fees.
Abubakar urged parents to be in touch with the school authorities by attending PTA meetings to know what fees are being agreed upon, and report cases where extra fees were being demanded.
“When there is an allegation, if the report comes to us, we set up a committee, we go round the schools you are accusing of doing something wrong. If we verify, we sanction them,” he said.
Basic education in Nigeria covers primary school and three years of secondary school.
It is governed by the Universal Basic Education Act of 2004, which provides that education is free and compulsory for children in Nigeria.
However, The ICIR reported that some fees were demanded by government-owned schools in the FCT, contributing to the increasing number of out-of-school children.
Government-owned primary and junior secondary schools in the FCT charge between N10,000 and N35,000 for enrolment of new students, which is unaffordable for many Nigerians dealing with severe economic challenges.