In an effort to enhance basic education in Ebonyi State, local community stakeholders have submitted their top-priority needs for schools to be included in the State Universal Basic Education Board’s (UBEB) 2024 action plan. This move came as a result of a two-day town hall meeting at UBEB’s headquarters in Abakaliki, the state capital.
The gathering, which spanned the state’s three Senatorial zones, was facilitated by Youthhub-Africa, a non-profit organization, as part of their Accountability for Good Governance in Education (AGGE) Cluster project, funded by USAID-Palladium. The event was co-hosted in Ebonyi by Development and Integrity Intervention Goals (DIG) Foundation in partnership with UBEB.
Ezeogo Anthony Njoku, the traditional ruler of Okposhi Umuoghara in Ezza North LGA, and other speakers noted that government decisions on school projects often miss the mark because they don’t consult the local communities, who are the ultimate beneficiaries. “The real needs of community schools are often not addressed when the host communities are not involved in the decision-making process,” they said.
Issues such as inadequate infrastructure, insufficient oversight, and a lack of educational materials were identified as obstacles to basic education in the state. Stakeholders called on UBEB to focus on constructing better classrooms, providing furniture and sports facilities, and increasing the availability of teaching materials in their 2024 action plan. They also urged for enhanced supervision to tackle issues like truancy and absenteeism among teachers and students.
UBEB’s chairman, Mrs. Patience Ogodo, and Secretary, Livinus Ezeuwa, welcomed the input. Ogodo praised both Governor Francis Nwifuru and the National Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) for their roles in improving education. Ezeuwa emphasized that improving school infrastructure and reducing absenteeism were among the board’s top priorities.
Oliver Chima Aja, the head of the Ebonyi Cluster and Executive Director of DIG Foundation, assured that the outcomes of these meetings would be considered in the state’s 2024 budget. “We already have an advocacy relationship with the State Ministry of Finance,” Aja said, encouraging all stakeholders to ensure that funds allocated to UBEB are used effectively for the betterment of basic education.
Peter Ogah, the Program Officer for Education at Youthhub-Africa, clarified the purpose of the meeting. “We aim to institutionalize a system where community members are actively involved in the decision-making process, allowing them to prioritize their own educational needs in UBEB’s annual action plans,” he explained.