The United Nations Resident Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Mr. Edward Kallon has said about 65 percent of the 74,280 public primary and junior secondary schools in Nigeria lack electricity, and as a result cannot guarantee technology-based education.
This was as the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) also revealed that accounts of the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) in about five states have been suspended due to various reasons including diversion of resources, among others.
Speaking at the 9th edition of the annual Wole Soyinka Centre Media Lecture series, with theme, ‘Light up, Light in: Interrogating the Nexus between Electricity and Basic Education in Nigeria’, held at the Shehu Musa Yar’Dua Centre, Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, stakeholders in attendance including the Executive Secretary of UBEC, Dr. Hamid Bobboyi; former Minister of Education, Dr. Obiageli Ezikwesili, among others, emphasised the importance of electricity to quality education delivery.
He said energy crisis in Africa has, and will continue to be a tragedy to the continent of Africa, saying out of the 1.5 billion people who lack access to electricity globally, 57 per cent, amounting to 622.6 million are in Africa.
According to him, “but the facts have shown that students who have access to electricity have been confirmed to perform better because they have access to modern facilities. Nigeria needs, at least for now, about 11,000 megawatts of electricity to serve the nation’s needs.”
Bobboyi who craved the support of stakeholders in the implementation and monitoring of UBEC mandates, revealed that the pressure to pay salaries has forced some state governments to divert grants for basic education development to salary payment and other illegal spendings.
He said all the data flying around about the out-of-school students in Nigeria cannot be correct and may be grossly inadequate, saying the need for a technology-based data generation is required and must be done pretty soon.
Dr. Ezikwesilli lamented what she termed the gross neglect of education sector, saying there is a correlation between poverty and public school system.
She described the public school system without power supply as an intergenerational dynasty of poverty, saying there is a need to look at public expenditure.
Other speakers at the event include the former Acting Chairman of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, Dr. Anthony Akah; Prof. Olabisi Obadofin of the Lagos State University (LASU) and the Provost of the Nigerian Institute of Journalism, Mr. Gbemiga Ogunleye.
The programme was organised by the Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism (WSCIJ), as part of the activities marking the birthday celebration of the Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, who recently, clocked 83.