The Universal Basic Education Commission, UBEC, says it will soon commence the construction of 17 additional smart schools in states that are yet to benefit from the intervention.
Executive Secretary of UBEC, Dr Hamid Bobboyi, stated this on Wednesday during a chat with newsmen in Abuja on the eve of the 2021 International Children Day.
Bobboyi, who gave a breakdown of the cost of constructing the schools, said each of the 7 smart schools located in the six geopolitical zones was constructed at approximately N600 million while N350 million each would be spent on constructing model smart schools in each state of the federation.
The UBEC boss disclosed that twenty of the smart schools were already completed, while construction work on the remaining 17 will commence in the next one month.
“At the moment we have seven zonal smart schools, representing all the geopolitical zones in the country; we have also started the construction of the state models and so far, we have constructed two in each of the geopolitical zones and one extra in the North West because of the number of states there and the population.
“So far, we have 20. Our hope is that in the next one month we will ensure that the remaining states that do not have the model schools have them; the construction will start very soon,” he said.
He noted that the whole idea about the construction of the smart schools is to ensure that children in the country compete effectively in the 21st century, adding that in many parts of the world, e-learning has become an integral part of the school system and Nigeria cannot afford to be left behind.
He said while private schools in the country are already providing e-learning facilities for their pupils, the government is pushing hard to ensure that pupils in public schools have e-learning facilities irrespective of whether they can afford to pay for them.
Bobboyi said UBEC was collaborating with state governments to make the model schools a paradigm that states can replicate, adding however that the carrying capacity of the schools will not be high.
He added that the commission was in discussion with the Nigerian Communication Commission, NCC, National Information Technology Development Agency, NITDA, internet service providers and other stakeholders to ensure internet connectivity in the schools.
“The power systems will be provided by the Chinese company Huawei, we are making effort to ensure that we have stable power supply at the end of the day,” he said.
He said the commission also started vocational schools during the north east intervention, adding that when a school is built, vocational equipment are provided to help the children learn a trade.
On counterpart funding for states to access UBEC allocations, he said as at 31st of December 2020, about 120 billion was lying in the coffers of UBEC unutilised by state governments, adding that the major problem with the allocations is slow utilisation of funds.
Earlier, the Director of Physical Planning, UBEC, Engr. Abubakar Sa’ad, said the smart schools initiative, which was started by the leadership of Bobboyi is aimed at creating a conducive learning environment for the children.
Sa’ad, who was recently honoured as a fellow of the Nigeria Society of Engineers, in its 17th fellowship award ceremony, said he will ensure that all the school buildings are constructed according to specifications.
The director who is currently coordinating efforts in the construction of the The director who is currently coordinating efforts in the construction of the smart schools across the country, added that some staff of the commission are currently deployed to take inventory of all UBEC-funded schools affected by rainstorm.