Mr. Udom Emmanuel, Governor of Akwa Ibom state.

By Abasifreke Effiong

The 2020 budget of Akwa Ibom state signed by Governor Udom Emmanuel, shows that the state government will spend N2,224.69 (Two thousand two hundred and twenty-four Naira, sixty-nine kobo) only on “training and retraining” of each primary school teacher throughout the year.

Management of primary school teachers is controlled by the State Universal Basic Education Board, SUBEB.

The Akwa Ibom State Universal Basic Education Board (AK-SUBEB), has an approved budget of N2.649billion in 2020.

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The approved per head cost for training and retraining of each primary school teacher in the budget is N2,224.69 kobo.

The Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly and Governor Udom Emmanuel approved N10million for the annual training and retraining of 4495 primary school teachers.
This puts the annual per head cost of training of each primary school teacher at N2,224.69 kobo.

Akwa Ibom budgets N2,224 for training of primary school teacher, N10mn for 'entertainment' of SUBEB Governor Udom Emmanuel in a handshake with Mr. Aniekan Bassey, Speaker, Akwa Ibom state House of Assembly after the signing of the 2020 budget.

Akwa Ibom state government has been running a free and compulsory education from primary to secondary schools for more than a decade now.

Despite the free and compulsory education policy, there is a worrisome proliferation of private schools in the state.

These private schools, especially nursery, are enjoying high patronage by low – income parents who should prefer the government – offered free education policy.

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In August last year, the Akwa Ibom state government published names of more than 1,140 private schools operating illegally in the state and threatened to shutdown the affected schools.

That was not the first time the state government raised alarm over the proliferation of illegal schools, but it usually does not take steps to shutdown the schools.

There are concerns that the state government is not giving priority to the training of its teachers in primary schools.

The 2020 budget allocation for the training and retraining of 4495 primary school teachers in the state when compared with money allocated for other less important programmes in the budget would dwarf the Akwa Ibom state government’s attempts to convince her citizens that it places premium on the free and compulsory education policy and the quality of her teachers.

While the Akwa Ibom state House of Assembly and Governor Udom Emmanuel signed off N2,224.69 (Two thousand two hundred and twenty-four Naira, sixty-nine kobo) for training of a teacher, they approved N10million to SUBEB for entertainment at meetings.

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In the AK-SUBEB approved budget for 2020 posted on the Akwa Ibom state government website, N10million is voted for “entertainment at meetings”, while N23.5million is approved for honorarium and sitting allowance to the eight members of the state basic education board.

AK-SUBEB is a full-time, eight members Board. Three members of the Board, the chairman and two other members are appointed by the Governor, while five ex-officio on the Board are statutory members drawn from Ministry of Education, Finance, Justice, Local Government, Government and Chieftaincy Affairs as ex-officio members.

Entertainment at meetings for the Board members coded as programme number 00002000001101, had the same vote of N10million in the 2019 budget of the state.

AK-SUBEB also has a vote of N10million for “monitoring” of home grown school feeding programme in 2020 even though no money has been approved in the budget for the procurement of food and snacks for the school feeding programme.

Other items in the SUBEB budget are, purchase of one HP computer set -N960,000; curtain/four window blinds – N400,000; one (2 HP) copper coil Samsung split unit air conditioner with installation kit – N400,000; and two (12ft 6 inches ) aluminium shelves at N986,000.