The Unity Schools Old Students Association (USOSA) has tasked the Federal Government to channel bulk of the education budget to basic and secondary education.
The President General of the association, Mr Michael Magaji disclosed this at a news conference in Abuja to herald the 40th Plenary and 2023 Annual General Meeting of the association.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the theme for the Plenary is tagged: ” The Journey To Nationhood:50 Years of Unity Schools”.
Magaji said that basic education required adequate attention adding that not until the country began to give priorities to basic education, the other layers of education would not improve.
According to him, it is easy to build on tertiary education if the foundation is solid and any country that does not apply adequate funding to education is going to be threatened by the challenges of the future.
“The government has a constitutional obligation to fund public education and any type of funding is not too costly for the sake of our country and national development.
“Any amount of money you spend on education, no matter how much, will give you the desired results. We cannot afford not to fund education.
“Interestingly this years budget, I know education featured third highest which to me is a good sign that the federal government is showing more concern in education, our issue really is about the balance in the allocation of basic, secondary and tertiary.
“We feel the emphasis on the bulk of the budget should go to basic and secondary education which is the formative year of a child,once you have that pedagogy right it’s easy to build on tertiary.
“But if we are doing the reverse, then we will have challenges and that has been the case for a very long time.
“Apart from budget of the federal government on education, we have interventions from agencies like TETFund who are doing tertiary education, the education tax of three per cent goes to TETFund but it is only for higher institutions,” he said.
Magaji explained that not until few years ago that an act to establish a National Senior Secondary Education Commission (NSSEC) was passed in the parliament.
He said that hopefully when the intervention line for secondary budget commenced in 2024, there would be great improvement in the sector.
In the areas of capacity building, Magaji said there was need for continuous strengthening of the various institutions to train manpower fit to teach students in the schools.
“In terms of capacity, educational planning, resourcing and training of those managing the process, we must continue to strengthen the institutions that train teachers.
” We must provide training for teachers and strengthen the examination bodies so that they can use the modern tools to deliver our exams and prepare students also.
“We need to build strong institutions and that has not always been the case because of so many reasons around corruption but if we continue to strengthen these institutions, we will be able to deal with it.
“Our people must be educated because it is very key to national,” he said.
On the state infrastructural deficit in the schools, he said that mainstreaming the alumni associations would help in strengthening public education as well as support the government in providing infrastructures for the benefit of the students.
Also speaking on character formation, he said that celebrating 50 years of second generation of the schools had greatly helped in forming Nigerian students to be great ambassadors of the country anywhere they found themselves.
“We as USOSANS are showing good examples through our strong mentoring skills we do to help strengthen students formation and character formation in their own school.
“We do this as part of our responsibilities as leaders, we attend the Monday and Saturday assemblies of the schools to talk to the kids, inspire them and hopefully that will help remold them in the area of character formation,” he added.
He therefore said that the 40th Plenary which is scheduled to hold on Saturday, Nov. 11, would feature awards to outstanding Nigerians.
He also said that the association was working towards making sure that the federal government encouraged outstanding teachers through giving of national honours.(NAN)