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Explain the funding, quality assurance strategies, school location and universal basic education instructional goal attainment.

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CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1       Background to the Study

The importance of basic education to the development of every individual, especially in the 21st century, has continued to attract comments from education stakeholders at different academic fora around the world. Basic education is universally accepted as one of the crucial indicators for determining the literacy and youth development index as well as categorisation of nations as developed, underdeveloped or developing. This appeared to have accounted for some deliberate global and local actions by governments and non-state actors towards the provision of qualitative and functional basic education for the young ones. Basic education is therefore considered by the United Nations’ Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) as a strategic instrument to foster sustainable growth and development.

Interestingly, the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) through its National Policy on Education (NPE) revised in 2014 emphasised that basic schools are established to inculcate appropriate fundamental knowledge, skills and values into the young ones to make them useful for themselves and the society at large. Similarly, the desire of every parent is to see that children are properly trained to acquire basic skills that are appropriate for their age through early exposure to quality basic education. These skills are considered by education policy makers and school administrators as essential for successful senior secondary and higher educational pursuits as well as organised trades or vocations. Additionally, education stakeholders believed that children should be given adequate opportunity to acquire functional life skills and climb the ladder of academic success quickly. No wonder, Ojeleye (2020) noted that acquisition of basic life skills’ proficiency by learners in basic schools appeared to be a must, being the foundation upon which other levels of education are built.

Consequently, relevant Ministries, Department and Agencies (MDAs) as well as school administrators and teachers are under pressure to ensure that learners attain the minimum learning outcome set for basic schools. It therefore appeared logical to say that the success of Nigeria’s basic education system depended largely on learners’ attainment of high proficiency in basic skills and minimum instructional outcome. Accordingly, in line with the sixth goal of Education for All (EFA) declaration, second goal of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and fourth goal of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which emphasised the importance of access to qualitative, functional and inclusive education by the young ones, the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) launched the Universal Basic Education (UBE) programme in Sokoto State, North-West, Nigeria on 30th September, 1999. The programme was however given legal instrument in 2004 through the compulsory, free and universal basic education act, 2004.

Expectedly, as stated in the UBE Act (2004), the UBE programme was conceived to serve as an intervention programme in order to reform the previous basic education programmes in Nigeria; Free Primary Education Programme (FPEP) implemented by Chief Obafemi Awolowo in the western region of Nigeria in 1955 and the Universal Primary Education (UPE) programme implemented by the Federal Military Government in 1976 as well asimprove the literacy and youth development index of Nigeria among comity of nations. Therefore, in order to achieve the aforementioned laudable vision of the UBE programme, four ambitious instructional goals of attaining minimum proficiency in literacy, numeracy, manipulative and civic skills were set for all the beneficiaries of the UBE programme. It thus appeared that the entire UBE programme revolved round the attainment of the aforementioned essential life skills by the learners.

Additionally, the life skills (instructional goals) set for basic education learners in the UBE Act (2004) are considered by education stakeholders as strategic for learner’s growth and development. No wonder, Green and Riddell (2015) described the life skills as crucial to the development of individuals in order to reach their full potentials and strong indicators for national development and survival in the 21st century and beyond. In line with the foregoing, although, five distinct goals were set for the UBE programme, this study devouted close attention to the fifth goal (acquisition of minimum proficiency in literacy, numeracy, manipulative, communicative and other life skills, as well as ethical, moral and civic values needed for laying a solid foundation for lifelong learning) usually expressed as literacy, numeracy, manipulative and civic skills (UBE instructional goals). These goals are significant because they showcased  Nigeria’s major  effort at building a formidable human capital base and attaining the Education 2030 agenda.

Furthermore, apart from highlighting the instructional goals as stated above, the UBE Act (2004) also outlined the methods of assessing their levels of attainment through the National Assessment of Learning Achievement in Basic Education (NALABE). This is expected to be conducted by the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) which was established to oversee the entire UBE programme. The NALABE assessment is expected to be conducted in line with the approved UBE syllabus and leveraged on determining the progress made in terms of learning outcome as well as establishing some possible factors hindering full attainment of the UBE instructional goals. The attainment of the UBE instructional goals by basic education learners is usually expressed as performance index obtained by basic education learners in English, Mathematics, Basic Science and Technology, and Social Studies.

Moreover, theimportance of assessing the level of attainment of the minimum basic skills by learners through NALABE was stressed by Ogunniran (2018) that the four basic skills being assessed; (literacy, numeracy, manipulative and civic) are powerful literacy indicators and invaluable assets to every responsible individualin the 21st century. This seemed to justify the series of NALABE surveys conducted and published by UBEC in 2001, 2003, 2006, 2011 and 2017. The noticeable inconsistencies in  the survey showed a significant gap begging for attention. Although, the current status of the UBE instructional goals  attainment are apparently unknown, UBEC hoped that on completion of basic education under the UBE programme, all learners that successfully experienced continuous schooling for ten years should be able to display minimum proficiency in literacy, numeracy, manipulative and civic knowledge, skills and values.

However, in what appeared to be worrisome, UBEC (2015) noted with concern that the NALABE surveys it conducted with the objective of assessing the  proficiency of learners in  basic schools in the four core subjects of English Studies, Mathematics, Basic Science and Technology, and Social Studies showed  results  which were far below the expected national average. This is therefore seen as critical empirical evidence on attainment level of basic education learning outcomes in Nigeria. It is therefore very relevant to this study and highly essential for determining the strengths and weaknesses of the UBE programme as a whole.

Also, key basic education stakeholders have expressed concerns on the perceived low level of acquisition of basic literacy, numeracy, manipulative and civic skills by basic education learners. Specifically, UNESCO (2020) observed that basic education learners in Nigeria and indeed sub-Saharan Africa are far below minimum proficiency in basic skills that should be acquired. In the same vein, UNICEF (2020) reported in a paper presented at the 2020 Nigeria’s Annual Education Conference (NAEC) that 60% of basic education learners in Nigeria could not read  while 80% could barely manipulate figures. Again,  the Vanguard Newspaper of  August 11, 2021 reported that Nigeria was regrettably ranked 161st out of 181 countries in the triennial Commonwealth youth development and quality indicator of education index last released in year 2020.

Lately, UNICEF (2022) also noted with concern that on the average, 70% of school children are attending basic schools in Nigeria without learning the essential life skills. These are worrisome manifestations threatening the integrity of UBE programme in terms of learning outcome which had almost dashed the hope of education stakeholders on the ideal level of attainment of the instructional goals that were set for learners in the UBE programme. Consequently, this ugly situation has led to serious public outcry and Nigerianshave identified government at all levels, teachers, education managers, policy makers and host communities as partly or wholly responsible for the perceived poor quality of learners’ instructional goals attainment in basic schools in Nigeria.

Particularly, some of the pertinent questions raised by education stakeholders included: What is the current UBE instructional goals attainment level in Nigeria? Are the UBE funding strategies being fully utilised?  Do counterpart fund, matching grant and donor funds translate to conducive teaching-learning environment in basic schools? What strategies are employed to ensure quality assurance and attainment of UBE instructional goals? These germane questions among others are thought provoking and essentially relevant to this study. It therefore presupposed that the issues of funding and quality assurance strategies should be looked into as we jointly search for reliable evidence on the current status and possible hindrances to the attainment of the instructional goals of the UBE programme.

Usually, the issue of funding in any organisation or programme is very crucial and significant. Funding of the education sector has ignited comments from scholars and education stakeholders the world over. This is even as the education sector competed for survival among other sectors of the economy. Although, the provision of public basic education appeared to be expensive, it is on the average, in some countries around the world, including Nigeria, a responsibility expected to be shouldered by the Government. This responsibility was also encouraged by UNESCO as it recommended 26% of budgetary allocation as the ideal percentage to the education sector by the government. Consequently, education funding had been bench marked on whether government complied with the 26% UNESCO recommendation or not. However, some African countries, including Nigeria, had not met this crucial education funding benchmark over the years. This ugly situation was also confirmed by the Guardian Newspaper of 3rd October, 2019 which painted the gloomy picture of poor education financing in Nigeria.

Similarly, Egbo (2021) noted with concern that poor funding is a major factor hindering effective delivery of education in Nigeria. As a matter of concern, from the pre-colonial era till date, it appeared that funding of the education sector has posed a big challenge to successive governments in Nigeria and this situation is giving Nigerians sleepless nights. Essentially, Nigerians have expressed palpable fears about the future of the country’s education system particularly when a nation like Nigeria, which is usually teased as the giant of Africa in terms of population and economic propensity, could regrettably be listed by UNESCO among countries with the poorest funded education sector around the world. This is quite unfortunate and unacceptable.

Also, Ewa and Ewa (2019) observed with concern that the issue of funding is usually in the forefront of any programme and it is the root of most crises in the education sector in Nigeria.  Although, public education provision is said to be capital intensive, the inadequacy of budgetary allocations to the education sector by government which hovered around 7% over a long period of time called for serious concern. However, in what appeared to be a paradigm shift, special funding strategies were developed by the Federal Government of Nigeria for the implementation and sustenance of the UBE programme. Under this arrangement, according to FGN (2014), basic education funding was made a joint funding venture by the three tiers of government (federal, state and local). This is in addition to the anticipated support from International Development Partners (IDPs) and private interventions by parents, host communities and philanthropists.

Additionally, Abdusalam (2019) noted with delight that under the UBE funding strategies, special provision was made to fund the UBE Programme through intervention funds based on statutory transfer of 2% Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF). In this regard, the thirty-six States of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja are expected to pay 50% State Counterpart Fund (SCF) to access the UBE matching grant from the Universal Basic Education Commission on annual basis. According to the UBE Act (2004), the matching grants and other private funding by individuals and organizations remained crucial to the success of the UBE Programme and survival of the basic education sub-sector in Nigeria.

Interestingly, the UBE funding strategies are specifically meant for the provision of infrastructures including; construction and rehabilitation of classrooms, toilets, libraries and learners/teachers’ furniture as well as monitoring and evaluation of basic schools across the country (NPE (2014). This is a clear indication that UBE funding strategies are expected to translate into conducive learning environment through the provision of basic facilities that would stimulate learning. In essence, affirmative decisions on whether education funding is adequate or not hinged on the availability of basic infrastructures in the school. Infrastructure is therefore relevant in this study as a major indicator of UBE funding strategies especially as the study is mostly domiciled at the school level.

However, despite the laudable nature of the UBE funding strategies as stated above, education stakeholders perceived low level of commitment on the part of state governments over their failure to optimally utilise the UBE funding strategies regularly. This position was corroborated by World Bank and Okwo (2013) that about 62.2 billion naira in matching grants, representing approximately 22.5 percent of total matching grants provided by UBEC were not accessed by state governments between 2005 and 2010. Also, UBEC (2019) observed that there were several un-accessed UBE matching grants because states were unable to pay the mandatory State Counterpart Funds. Accordingly, the 36 States and Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, did not access over Eighty-four (84) billion naira earmarked by UBEC as matching grants for the implementation of the UBE programme as at 2015. This apparent monster in basic education delivery in Nigeria is unacceptable and required concerted actions to reverse the trend.

Also, UBEC (2019) observed varied level of access of the UBE matching grants in terms of years of access by States across the country. For instance, Ogun State accessed the 2014-2017 UBE matching grants in 2019 and the grant-aided intervention projects in this respect are still on-going across the state even as the year 2022 is in the last quarter, leaving a balance of 5-year un-accessed UBE matching grants. The irregular access of the UBE matching grants appeared to be partly applicable to some states across the federation. No wonder, the Honourable Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu at the 65th National Council on Education (NCE) held in Jalingo, Taraba State from 9th through 13th August 2021, announced that over 130 billion Naira UBE matching grants were not accessed by States as at August, 2021.

Therefore, Nigerians are worried about the discrepancies in the payment of state counterpart funds and perceived low access status of UBE matching grants which was perceived to be partly responsible for the dilapidated infrastructures that dot some public basic schools nationwide as well as inadequate educational materials to facilitate meaningful teaching and learning in schools. However, UBEC (2014) hinted that over the years, the Universal Basic Education Commission had intervened in critical school needs especially classrooms and toilets across the country in rural and urban schools according to approved action plans drawn by State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) and the Commission hoped that learners would thrive well in their learning activities regardless of the school location. This is even as there are fears in some quarters that disparity existed in the deployment of funding in rural and urban schools.

Consequently, Amadi (2018) expressed concern that the UBE funding strategies are more pronounced in urban schools in termsof availability of basic school facilities and private support than the rural schools, leading to seeming disparity in learners’ instructional goals attainment while UBEC (2015) noted that urban and rural schools enjoy equal attention in terms of funding and provision of basic school infrastructures, learners are therefore expected to display aggregate skills’ proficiency, irrespective of school location. In another study, Nwoko (2015) concluded that the deficiencies in educational financing in Nigeria are evident in the number of out of school children and shortages in basic school infrastructures like classrooms, toilet and instructional materials as well as poor learning outcome while Ewa & Ewa (2019) noted that the inadequacy of financial allocations to education over the years is glaring and that it had relegated school infrastructures to the background and impeded academic attainment. In the same vein, UNESCO (2015) revealed that infrastructure such as classrooms, toilets and furniture are inadequate and in a dilapidated state in most Nigeria schools in the face of poor funding, population explosion and limited learning outcome.

Remarkably, it could be deduced from the above that basic education funding had been considered by past researchers in terms of monetary value without necessarily delving into the specific UBE funding strategies (state counterpart fund, matching grants and donor funding). Also, academic attainment level of learners was not based on specific UBE instructional goals’ attainment (proficiency in literacy, numeracy, manipulative and civic skills) as contained in the (UBE Act, 2004). Also the non-consensus among scholars on the relationship between funding and attainment of UBE instructional goals presented a salient gap for this study to fill.

Nevertheless, the federal government through the NPE (2014) noted that apart from the UBE funding strategies discussed above, there arose the need for mechanisms to be put in place to ensure compliance and sustenance of minimum standards set for basic education in the free and compulsory education act, 2004. This is especially, in respect of the attainment of the UBE instructional goals by basic school learners across the country. At this point, the concept of education quality assurance and relevant strategies were considered for the UBE programme.

Accordingly, FGN (2014) noted that successful implementation of the UBE programme and attainment of high learning outcome in schools rested predominantly on the extent to which quality assurance are regularly deployed to foster strict adherence to the minimum standard of basic education in terms of adherence to curriculum, lesson delivery and school hygiene. Therefore, in the UBE programme, quality assurance strategies were also considered. The concept of education quality assurance planned for the UBE programme was holistic and basically concerned with ensuring the integrity of the outcome of basic education in Nigeria. Quality assurance in this regards covered personnel and infrastructures as well as learners who are the end products of the UBE programme. Thus, the Federal Ministry of Education (FME) in2016 identified certain characteristics and attributes expected to ensure quality provision of basic education in basic schools across the country in line with basic education minimum standard as contained in free, compulsory and universal basic education act, 2004.

Interestingly, based on the foregoing premise, UBEC Statutorily conducted quality assurance monitoring and evaluation in basic education institutions across the country at regular intervals. This crucial exercise is usually done in collaboration with the State Universal Basic Education Boards (SUBEBs), Local Government Education Authorities (LGEAs), Principals of Junior Secondary Schools and School Based Management Committees (SBMCs) to ensure that all relevant stakeholders are carried along in order to enhance successful implementation and attainment of the instructional goal of the UBE programme. Furthermore, according to UBEC (2020), the strategies adopted in UBE quality assurance practices included; monitoring, inspection, supervision and evaluation. These strategies which are listed hierarchically in ascending order appeared to be paradigm shift from the old school supervision practices.

Moreover, UBEC (2020) expatiated that the modern quality assurance strategies thrived under such terminologies as: whole school evaluation (external evaluation) and school self-evaluation or self-review (internal evaluation), all aimed at producing an effective school and providing necessary support to bring about improvement in learning delivery and outcome.Also, the FME (2016) stated that the new strategies employed in quality assurance of the UBE Programme were designed to allow basic schools evaluate themselves first and complete the School Self-Evaluation Form (SSEF) daily. After the school self-evaluation, the external evaluators visit the schools to validate the school self-evaluation report in line with the approved 8-key indicators of school effectiveness termly.

Additionally, at the upper basic school level, internal quality assurance strategies are expected to be deployed by the Principals daily using the school self-evaluation framework. According to UBEC (2020), same instrument and indicators are used for internal evaluations and external evaluation either in rural or urban schools. The findings from quality assurance activities at the school level are expected to guide the principals in taking appropriate actions on re-classification of teachers, need for parent-teacher meeting, recommendations for further training and internal merit awards in order to achieve school improvement.

However, the external quality assurance evaluation involved teams of evaluators visiting schools through pre-arranged procedures. It is expected to be carried out termly by the Federal Ministry of Education, Universal Basic Education Commission, State Ministries of Education, State Universal Basic Education Boards (SUBEBs) and Local Government Education Authorities (LGEAs). Under this exercise, as prescribed by FME (2016), the head of the school would be informed prior to the visit.  Every area of school life would be evaluated using a 5-point scale (outstanding, good, fair, poor and very poor). The outcome of this crucial exercise is expected to inform national and state planning, training, policy developments and necessary adjustments as well as special interventions where needed.

Consequently, UNESCO (2015) noted that effective quality assurance activities guaranteed confidence and certainty about a programme of study in terms of standard and quality of attainment of the set goal while Moddibo (2014) who studied the influence of quality assurance supervision on Nigerian secondary school effectiveness concluded that quality assurance supervision is an indispensable variable in the teaching learning process as well as the overall attainment of learning objectives. Again, Ogunode, Adah, Wama and Audu (2020)attributed the current significant feat achieved in basic education delivery and outcome in Nigeriato the prevailing quality assurance deployment in basic schools.

In the same vein, UNICEF (2015) andUBEC (2022) concluded that quality assurance is a good check and balance system for basic education actors in order to deliver their mandates towards the attainment of learning objectives in schools. The two studies also concluded that there would have been no justification for the huge investment of government in basic education  and quality assurance deployment, if learners are attending schools without learning the essential life skills.  Accordingly, the two studies recognised the positive roles of  quality assurance in ensuring effective teaching-learning process and outcome.

However, despite the laudable nature of the UBE quality assurance deployment in secondary schools as depicted in the studies identified above, a study carried out by Ayara, Essia and Udah (2013) could not establish significant positive relationship between quality assurance and learning outcome in UBE implementation in Cross-River State as it found results which were below national standard in terms of proficiency in life skills despite the presence of quality assurance. Also, a study carried out by Kinyanjui and Ordho (2014) showed results which were a little above average in English Studies, Pre-vocational studies; Religion and national values and poor result in Mathematics despite deployment of quality assurance activities. In the same vein, Nwafor (2015) established that the internal and external quality assurance ratings about schools do not always correlate when compared, and that disparity existed in the academic performance of learners in rural and urban basic schools especially in Basic Science and Technology. Also, UNICEF (2019) observed with concern that the inability of basic education learners to acquire basic literacy and numeracy skills showed that Nigeria’s basic education system lacked sustainable quality assurance system and administration.

Curiously, the results of the studies presented above appeared to be ambiguous and limited in scope. For instance, quality assurance was considered as a general term and as an implementation variable without necessarily delving into the success or failure of its specific strategies (monitoring, inspection, supervision and evaluation) to the four basic education instructional goals (literacy, numeracy, manipulative and civic skills). This is another serious gap that this study intended to fill.

Consequently, there are growing arguments among Nigerians to improve learners’ level of acquisition and proficiency in basic literacy, numeracy, manipulative and civic skills by enhancing funding and quality assurance strategies of the UBE Programme. Thus, UBEC (2019) and CBN (2019) noted the federal government made direct deductions from the Paris refunds of federating states to pay part of the outstanding UBE state counterpart funds in order for them to access some of the arrears of matching grants which had hitherto been un-accessed. Inspite of the federal government efforts, the challenge of irregular access of UBE matching grants by states appeared to still persist.

Also, in 2016, the federal government through the Federal Ministry of Education developed uniform quality assurance monitoring and evaluation instrument in basic schools nationwide. Also, 2% of UBEC’s operational fund had been earmarked for quality assurance deployment to institutionalise functional, effective and efficient quality assurance strategies at SUBEB and LGEA level. These steps appeared to be bold and promising. Surprisingly, the challenge of low deployment of UBE quality assurance strategies is still being experienced in schools across the country.

Consequently, the Business Day Newspaper of November 24th 2019 reportedstories on teaching-learning process undertaken under the tree or in overcrowded and dilapidated classrooms in Nigeria despite UBE funding as well as inability of basic school learners to read, write and communicate in simple and correct English.  Again, as quality assurance officers carry out their statutory duties in basic schools using the approved strategies of monitoring, inspection, supervision and evaluation, there appeared to be no consensus onthe effectiveness of quality assurance activities deployment and specific influence of the quality assurance strategies on the attainment of UBE instructional goal.

Also, there is an ongoing public debate among Nigerians that funding and quality assurance strategies as well as attainment of instructional goals in basic education institutions are usually based on school location. For instance, Denga (2017) stated that school location (rural or urban) is a strong determinant of students’ academic attainment level while Amadi (2018) also noted that school location remained a strong determinant in the deployment of teachers, distribution of facilities and instructional materials, frequency of instructional supervision and learning outcome. Interestingly, school location (urban or rural) influenced allocation of resources in SUBEBs action plans for the deployment of UBE matching grants and quality assurance strategies. No wonder, the 2018 National Personnel Audit (NPA) published in 2019 attached great importance to school location and estimated that 60% of Nigeria’s basic Schools in Nigeria are in urban while the balance of 40% are located in rural areas.This factor is therefore crucial for  this study.

Again, the current status of the UBE instructional goals’ attainment especially in the four core subjects of English, Mathematics, Basic Science and Technology and Civic Education which represented the four life skills: (literacy, numeracy, manipulative and civic skills) are apparently unknown. This is evident in the fact that except for the annual Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) conducted by states across the federation for the purpose of placement into senior secondary schools, the National Assessment of Learning Achievement in Basic Education (NALABE) was last published by UBEC in 2017. This is a serious gap which provided another justification for this study.

In view of the foregoing knowledge gap, and in line with the long desire of Nigerians for holistic empirical study that could investigate the influence of multiple variables on the attainment of UBE instructional goals, this study examined the influence of funding, quality assurance strategies and school location on the attainment of UBE instructional goal in upper public basic schools in south-west, Nigeria.

1.2       Statement of the Problem

Globally, quality basic education has been adjudged as a critical social service and a strong pedestal for the attainment of sustainable development in any society. However, Nigeria was undesirably ranked 161st out of 181 countries on youth development and quality indicator of education index despite the laudable UBE instructional goals of acquisition of minimum proficiency in literacy, numeracy, manipulative and civic skills set by the federal government for the beneficiaries of the UBE programme. The manifestation of the foregoing as stated in the background of this study is that a large number of basic education learners in Nigeria cannot read, perform simple numeracy tasks and communicate effectively as expected. This has led to public outcry as discussions remained active on the issue at different academic fora across the country. Although, Government and other relevant stakeholders in the education sector are under pressure to address this ugly trend, there are palpable fears that the national aspiration to produce citizens that are intellectually sound and responsible might be dashed following the inability of state governments to fully take advantage of the UBE funding strategies which could help in full attainment of UBE instructional goals while others shift the blame on low deployment of quality assurance activities in schools. Again, past studies on the UBE programme had focused on funding in terms of monetary value while quality assurance was assessed as a single concept without considering the contributions of their specific strategies. Consequently, the growing concern among Nigerians for reliable empirical studies on how to foster regular access of the UBE matching grants, muster private support to promote conducive teaching-learning environment and determine how funding, quality assurance strategies and school location influenced the attainment of the UBE instructional goals in upper public basic schools led to the conduct of this Study

1.3       Objectives of the Study

The main objective of this study was to investigate funding, quality assurance strategies and UBE instructional goals attainment in upper public basic schools in South-West, Nigeria. Specifically, the study sought to:

  1. determine the level of learners’ attainment of UBE instructional goals attainment of UBE in terms of literacy, numeracy, manipulative and civic skills in upper basic schools;
  2. find out the profile of  UBE matching grants in terms of years of access among South-West States of Nigeria;
  3. examine the infrastructural profile of upper basic schools in South-West, Nigeria;
  4. ascertain the extent to which quality assurance strategies (Internal and External) are deployed to foster instructional goals attainment in upper basic schools in South-West, Nigeria;
  5. find out if funding is significantly related to UBE instructional goals attainment in upper basic schools in South-West, Nigeria;
  6. investigate if deploymentofquality assurance strategies (internal and external supervision, monitoring, inspection and evaluation) is significantly related to UBE instructional goals attainment in upper basic schools in South-West, Nigeria;
  7. determine if infrastructure is significantly related to UBE instructional goals attainment in upper basic schools in South-West, Nigeria;
  8. find out whether there is a significant difference in instructional goals attainment of UBE based on location of learners.

1.4       Research Questions

Based on the specific objectives listed above, the following research questions were raised and answered:

  1. What is the level of learners’ instructional goals attainment of UBE in terms of literacy, numeracy, manipulative and civic skills in upper basic schools?
  2. What is the profile of UBE matching grants years of access among South-West States of Nigeria?
  3. What is the infrastructural profile of upper basic schools in South-West, Nigeria?
  4. To what extent are quality assurance strategies (Internal and External) frequently deployed to foster instructional goals attainment among upper basic schools in South – West, Nigeria;

1.5       Hypotheses

In addition to the research questions above, the following hypotheses were formulated and tested:

H01:            Funding is not significantly related to UBE instructional goals attainment (Literacy, numeracy, manipulative and civic skills) in upper basic schools in South-West, Nigeria;

H02:         Deployment of quality assurance strategies (internal and external monitoring, inspection, supervision and evaluation) is not significantly related to UBE instructional goals attainment (Literacy, numeracy, manipulative and civic skills) in upper basic schools in South-West, Nigeria.

H03:         Infrastructure is not significantly related to UBE instructional goals attainment (Literacy, numeracy, manipulative and civic skills) in upper basic schools in South-West, Nigeria;

H04:         There is no significant difference in instructional goals attainment of UBE based on location of learners.

1.6       Significance of the Study

This study would be of immense benefits to the stakeholders in the education sector as well as the general public at large. Specifically, it would be of great benefits to the three tiers of government (federal, state and local), school administrators, policy makers, research centres, curriculum planners, basic education intervention agencies, quality assurance officials, teachers, parents, learners, philanthropists and host communities.

Basically, the outcome of the study would assist government at all levels to understand the shortcomings of the present UBE funding arrangement and quality assurance strategies. This would guide them to safeguard its occurrence in subsequent basic education plans and programmes. It would also guide government to fashion out alternative funding strategies for the UBE programme and serve as means to motivate States to promptly pay the required counterpart fund in order to regularly access the UBE matching grants for improved infrastructural provisions and instructional outcome in basic schools.

Also, this study would draw the attention of school administrators, policy makers and basic education intervention agencies to the need to reform the nature of the current UBE quality assurance practices and deployment. Specifically, it would also as an alternative to motivate serving quality assurance officials to deliver their mandate diligently. Again, UBEC would be gingered to repackage the quality assurance practices in line with global best practices in quality assurance monitoring and evaluation for improved school performance.

Interestingly, as we are all aware, basic education is a major indicator used in determining national literacy rate, socio-economic and political well-being of individuals and the entire society at large. Therefore, the general members of the public would appreciate the fact that no sacrifice made to achieve its quality of provision through sustainable funding as well as effective and efficient quality assurance strategies would be too much by any standard. In addition, members of the public would show more willingness to support government efforts in this regard. This they could do by supporting basic schools in their communities especially to address noticeable funding and quality gap.

Again, the outcome of this study would reveal the extent to which prompt access of UBE matching grants could improve the quality of human and material resources in basic schools. It would also reveal the extent to which quality assurance strategies are deployed in the area of monitoring and evaluation, adherence to approved curriculum, delivery of teaching-learning process and realisation of the minimum standard set for the UBE programme. This could facilitate peer review among state governments and encourage adoption or adaptation of best practices.

 

Also, the result of this study is expected to proffer practical solutions to the monster of un-accessed UBE matching grants and the perceived challenges facing the UBE quality assurance strategies. It would also open up new research opportunities for researchers and research centres that are willing to join in the search for a sustainable, quality and result-oriented basic education programme in the country. This way, the basic education system in the country would be strengthened for positive learning outcome that we would all be proud of.

Furthermore, this study could foster improved disposition of external quality assurance officials in the course of performing their official duties. This would go a long way at eliminating the challenge of tracking and reportage of school effectiveness by external evaluators. It would also reawaken the consciousness of school heads, teachers and quality assurance officers to see one another as partners in progress. This envisaged cordiality would engender mutual respect and robust interactions which would assist in achieving the much needed school improvement.

Also, the result of this study would improve the perception of principals and teachers about UBEC/SUBEB model of school infrastructural provisions, maintenance and deployment of quality assurance strategies. This would make them synergise with the members of the host communities in order to get assistance from non-state actors to address basic infrastructural deficit observed in schools. This is line with the UBEC slogan: ‘Education for All is the responsibility of All’

Additionally, it is crucial to also state that when sustainable funding model and effective quality assurance strategies are put in place for basic education, the teachers would be able to carry out teaching-learning activities in a conducive environment and strive to meet given standard. This way, the intellectual, emotional and physical capacities of learners (the end products of the UBE programme) would be enhanced. In the same vein, the wide gap between the present reality and expected instructional goal set for the UBE programme would gradually close.

Moreover, following the concerns raised by education stakeholders that UBE instructional goal are not being attained by most of the basic education learners in the country, curriculum planners would be gingered towards reviewing the UBE curriculum to a more realistic level. This is crucial as we are confronted with emerging issues in learning delivery and outcome across the globe. This way, new subjects could come on board while a host of learning content in the present curriculum might be repackaged or give way for new and more relevant concepts in line with 21st century requirements.

Lastly, the host communities, parents and philanthropists would by the result of this study be more encouraged to support government in the provision of human and material resources in basic schools through philanthropic gestures. This is in addition to the already established roles of School Based Management Committee (SBMC), Parent Teacher Association (PTA) and Old Student Associations. Consequently, the non-state actors would join hands with government to ensure quality delivery of basic education in the country with the understanding that no government anywhere in the world could single-handedly shoulder the responsibilities of providing quantitative, qualitative and functional basic education for its teeming populace.

1.7       Scope of the Study

This study covered the profile and influence of funding and quality assurance strategies from the Universal Basic Education Commission on UBE instructional goals attainment in terms literacy, numeracy, manipulative and civic skills. The study also attempted to find out whether school infrastructure (legally tied to UBE funding strategies by UBE Act, 2004) has significant relationship with funding, quality assurance strategies and UBE instructional goals attainment as an extraneous variable. The study also sought to know whether school location significantly influenced the interactions between the dependent variable (UBE instructional goals attainment) and independent variables of the study (funding and quality assurance strategies) as an intervening variable.The study directly or indirectly involved SUBEB officials, principals, teachers and learners in upper public basic schools in South-West, Nigeria.  This study did not consider the combined and relative contributions of matching grants years of access, infrastructures and quality assurance strategies to UBE instructional goal attainment (Literacy, numeracy, manipulative and civic skills) due to the fact that the variables in the study are not independent and they were not measured at the same level. This study did not also consider private basic schools in the country owing to differences in funding and quality assurance practices.

1.8       Operational Definition of Terms

UBE Instructional Goal Attainment: Proficiency of Junior Secondary School three learners in literacy, numeracy, manipulative and civic skills measured with Instructional Goal Achievement Test (IGAT) in the four-core subjects (English, Mathematics, Basic Science and Technology and Civic Education).

Upper Public Basic School: Junior Secondary School (1-3) owned and financed by the Federal and State Governments through the UBE matching grants as well as subjected to monitoring, inspection, supervision and evaluation as well as Instructional Goal Achievement Test (IGAT).

UBE Funding Strategies: State counterpart fund, matching grants and philanthropic gestures which translates to basic school infrastructures measured with Status of Matching Grants Proforma (SAMGP) and School Physical Resources Observational Scale (SPROS)

Quality Assurance: FME/UBEC/SUBEB/LGEA and Principals’ deployment of School Self Evaluation and External Evaluation forms to measure compliance with minimum basic education standard and attainment of UBE instructional goal.

Quality Assurance Strategies: UBEC’s monitoring, inspection, supervision and evaluation of teachers, learners and principals measured with Internal Quality Assurance Strategies Questionnaire (IQASQ) and External Quality Assurance Strategies Questionnaire (EQASQ) towards the attainment of UBE instructional goal.

School Location: urban or rural schools based on UBEC’s verified 60:40 ratio benchmarked on access to basic social amenities such as: electricity, pipe-borne water and good road network.

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