Poor budgeting negatively impacting education sector, official admits

Sonny Echono, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Education

Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Education, Sonny Echono has blamed the seemingly slow pace of the nation’s educational development on poor budgetary allocations.

He said that due to the significant role of education in the development of the country, it is pertinent that the National Assembly and other relevant agencies do an overhaul of its budgeting parameters and consider improving allocations to the education sector.

Echono, made this known, on Tuesday in Abuja, when he received the House of Representatives Committee on Tertiary Education and Services, who visited the Ministry on an oversight function.

He said despite inadequate funding, a lot has been achieved in the development of the nation’s tertiary institutions.

According to him, the sum N86 billion has been paid to members of academic unions of the tertiary institutions as earned academic allowances between 2013 to 2019 financial years.

He also disclosed that approval has been granted for a pension fund administrator to handle the pension and gratuities of staff of Nigerian universities.

He hinted also that in order to reduce or end strikes in the nation’s tertiary institutions, arrangements are ongoing to constitute visitation panels to deal with some of the challenges facing varsities with a view to finding lasting solutions to the problems.

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Deputy Director, Press and Public Relations Department, Mr Ben Bem Goong, in a statement quoted the Permanent Secretary as lamenting that the N84,728,529,572 the sector received in the 2020 Appropriation Act.

Echono stressed that it could not cater for the yearnings and challenges of the sector.

He subsequently appealed for more budgetary allocations in the 2021 budget, if the country is to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.

According to the Permanent Secretary, budgetary allocations to the sector needs to be improved as the country’s tertiary institutions are plagued with a lot of challenges, including the shortage of lecture theatres, hostel accommodation, obsolete laboratories and library facilities.

Echono added that the sector is also faced with a lack of adequate security infrastructure in tertiary institutions and non-completion of National library headquarters complex.

He stressed that the challenges have hindered proper assimilation of knowledge that the institutions are supposed to impart to students.

In his remarks, Chairman of the House Committee on Tertiary Education and Services and leader of the delegation, Aminu Suleiman, said the visit was not for fault finding but to build synergy with the Ministry on enhancing better service delivery in the nation’s tertiary institutions, within its limited resources.

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