Nigerian government orders overhaul of Unity Schools

Entrance to Federal Government College Ugwolawo [Photo: fgcugwolawo.net]
Entrance to Federal Government College Ugwolawo [Photo: fgcugwolawo.net]

The federal government has given a directive for the overhaul of all unity schools, otherwise known as Federal Government Colleges across Nigeria.

The permanent secretary of the federal ministry of education, Sunny Echono, said this during the monitoring of the 2019 National Common Entrance Examination (NCEE) in Abuja on Saturday.

The NCEE is an entrance examination into the unity schools.

Mr Echono said President Muhammadu Buhari gave the approval to the ministry of education to rehabilitate dilapidated structures and construct new classrooms in Unity Schools to accommodate more pupils.

“We are pleased that Mr President graciously approved that we should begin to rehabilitate many of these unity colleges,” he said.

According to him, there is a challenge of access to education in Nigeria. He said part of the schools’ intervention is to bring more children into the school system.

“We are improving our libraries, the laboratory and other amenities,” said Mr Echono.

“We are also recruiting additional teachers. Both the regularisation of PTA teachers and new equipment are ongoing.

“The minister of power, works and housing, too has come to our aid in Abuja, and he approved some interventions to rehabilitate classrooms in Abuja unity schools.”

Mr Echono was accompanied by the Acting Registrar of NECO, Abubakar Gana and other officials. They monitored the examination at Model Primary School, Maitama, and Government Day Secondary School, Wuse 2.

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NECO speaks

Also speaking, Mr Gana attributed the drop in the numbers of candidates who sat for the 2019 national examination into Unity Schools to lack of political sponsorship.

He said the state with the lowest number of application for the 2019 NCEE examination is Zamfara State with 59 candidates. Lagos is the state with the highest number, with over 23, 000 applications.

“So far, this year, we registered 75, 635 as at yesterday which is a drop (compared to 2018).

He said the number of applications dropped because of the politics in the country.

“Politics in the sense that everyone is struggling to ensure that his candidates are admitted in federal school because of the quota system,” he said.

He said the council deployed its staff over the country to serve as providers in all the 457 centres and one in Benin Republic.

According to him, the number of candidates to be admitted will be based on the carrying capacity of the schools. The process is being handled by the ministry.

“The result will be ready by Wednesday. Merit is 60 per cent and quota and others, 40 per cent. There will not be any other screening after the examination,” he said.

A parent, Zuerat Ajan, commended the ministry for adequate arrangements for a hitch-free examination.

“But they can do more, they need to improve the facilities in the schools too,” she said.

Background

Currently, Nigeria has 104 unity schools across the country.

News reports show that 79,878 pupils sat for the examination into federal government colleges in 2018, while 78,378 sat for the exams in 2017.

The first set of unity schools was set up by the British, before independence. Three new ones were established in Warri, Sokoto, and Enugu in 1966 while Yakubu Gowon, in 1973, established the schools in all the 12 states that existed then.

NECO is an examination body in Nigeria that conducts the Senior Secondary Certificate Examination and the General Certificate in Education in June/July and November/December/ respectively.

NECO was created by the regime of former Head of State, Abdulsalami Abubakar, in April 1999.

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