The UBE programme by president Olusegun Obasanjo which is a reformed strategy of the Universal Primary Education (UPE) and a response to Education For All (EFA) movement of UNESCO adopted by The Dakar Framework in April 2000 at the World Education Forum in Senegal. The movement has it’s goal in mind that all children would receive primary education by 2015.

The objective of the Universal Basic Education (UBE) is to provide Free, Compulsory and Universal Basic Education unlike the UPE whose mandate was to provide Free and Universal Basic Education. The indicator selected to measure UPE achievement was the net enrolment ratio (NER), which reflects the percentage of school-age children who are enrolled in school. Its value varies from 0% to 100%. A NER of 100% means that all eligible children are enrolled in school. If a country maintains that level over time, it implies as well that all the children enrolled are completing their studies (UNESCO, 2004: 236).

The U. P. E. Scheme in the Western Region sky-rocketed in pupil enrolment in the primary schools from fee paying 446, 600 in 1954 to non-fee 811, 432 in 1955; an increase of over 90% in one year (Ejiogu, 1988). 

By 1961 primary school enrolment in the West had risen to 1,134,788 pupils. In the words of Fafunwa (1974), indeed “January 1955 marked the beginning of an educational revolution not only in the West but in Nigeria as a whole”.

Free Universal Primary Education program therefore, was synonymous with increase in pupils” enrolment. This was also evidenced in the spontaneous increase in enrolment of pupils when the General Olusegun Obasanjo led Federal Government launched the UPE programme on September. 6. 1976, It is on record that at the announcement of the scheme, 3 million children turned, up for primary one, 0.7 million pupils above the projected figure (Arubayi, 1992).

A detailed review of the defunct UPE programme brings to focus the challenges of the UPE scheme. The excess of 0.7 million children in 1976 had no teachers, no desks, no benches, no classroom and no provisions whatever was made for them in terms of funds. It amounted to “planning without facts” (Arubayi, 1992).

Closely related to the issue of data is that of teachers. For instance (Yoloye, 1984) stated that many of the primary school teachers are either unqualified or under-qualified and that the percentage of qualified staff ranged (in 1976-77) from about 10% for Kaduna and Sokoto states to about 65% in Imo State.

A plan for improving quality and learning outcomes should be based on the findings of an education sector analysis (ESA), offer a vision for the future education system, set medium-term policy goals, and identify major strategies to achieve them. 

The range of education quality challenges facing the education system, as identified by an ESA, will form the basis to develop policy priorities and strategies, that should focus on resolving their underlying factors.

Problem with Policy
How well has the National policy on Education scrutinized and analyzed to meet the needs of the Nigeria citizens? We admire that the federal government have big dreams but it’s unfortunate that it’s lofty ideas seem unproductive. Meanwhile, the general objectives of primary education which is the foundation of all Education as stated in section 3, paragraph 14 of the National Policy on Education are:

  • The inculcation of permanent literacy and numeracy, and the ability to communicate effectively;
  • The laying of a sound basis for scientific and reflective thinking;
  • Citizenship education, as a basis for effective participation in and contribution to the life of the society;
  • Character and moral training and the development of sound attitudes;
  • Developing in the child the ability to adapt to his changing environment;
  • Giving the child opportunities for manipulative skills that will enable him to function effectively in the society within the limits of his capacity; 
  • Providing the basic tools for further educational advancement including preparation for trades and crafts of the locality.

The above objectives pose serious challenges therefore to the government by providing required resources and a well-articulated curriculum for primary education. We can not achieve the aforelisted objectives in the absence of required number of qualified teachers, desks, classroom and teaching materials and facilities. On this objective, 

“Providing the basic tools for further educational advancement including preparation for trades and crafts of the locality.”

The Way Forward: Bridging the Gap in Postsecondary Education.
There has been an underlying gap that needs to be filled in postsecondary education, equipping the young school leavers with knowledge, skills and experience in their career choice will contribute to economic development. The need to establish a compulsory internship programmes funded by government agency in partnership with organizations to provide trainings prior to their admission into the tertiary institution cannot be underestimated.

For example, students with interest in getting a law degree can intern in a court or law chamber to have a firsthand experience of the profession likewise in other fields. This new development will not only keep them busy but will contribute meaningfully to their personal growth and in nation building in order to comfortably thrive in our evolving society.

The 21st century question has been, what skill does young school leavers have to prepare them after graduation? After secondary Education what’s next? 

Absolutely NOTHING! It is important to incorporate entrepreneurship Education into the secondary school curriculum in preparation for trades and crafts of the locality. 

Neglecting this gaps will likely increase crimes and vices among young school leavers, increased in enrollment for Universal Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) into the Universities. School leavers are worn out of staying at home, becoming unproductive to themselves, families and members of the society. It is popularly said that, 

” an idle mind is the devil’s workshop “. 

There has been no postsecondary school programs to close these gaps to equip school leavers with the necessary skills to embrace the future of work.

Employability skills can be developed at this stage for the interest of those in the Vocational and creative fields because it’s unlikely that all secondary school leavers can afford to attend the tertiary institution.

Policies guides the conduct and monitors the progress of every institution and if not efficiently implemented will hinder the development of a nation.

The increase in the dropout tendency of Primary school pupils have shown the need for the government to step up to address the lapses in the Education sector. As stipulated in the National policy on Education that the basis of primary education is to inculcate permanent literacy and numeracy, and the ability to communicate effectively. If Education is entirely FREE of all payment then we will have less number of out of school children in Nigeria. –