The federal government of Nigeria, through the Universal Basic Education commission, is currently carrying out a more comprehensive school census for public and private schools, using smart technology called Global Positioning System (GPS) to fast track electronic enrollment of students and teachers. HENRY TYOHEMBA writes on the need for other sectors to borrow the leaf.
The lack of data in Nigeria remains the biggest obstacle to national development. Data of good quality is crucial for government and private investors to accurately plan, fund and evaluate development activities. The truth is that no country can progress well without accurate data. A country needs to know its population of children, those graduating and coming into the educational system, to enhance national development.
Unfortunately, the issue of data has been one of the major factors deterring national development across all sectors in the country. The recent disclosure by the Minister of education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, that the number of out of school children has dropped to 8.6m from initial 10.5m estimated by UNICEF, is another contradiction that the accurate data of children roaming the streets has not been provided.
The executive secretary of UBEC, Dr Hamid Bobboyi, speaking recently in Abuja, dismissed the data indicating 10.5 million Nigerian children being out of school as not reliable, as both the National Bureau of Statistic (NBS) nor any other agency could give credence to the figure. He said Nigeria needs to compile a new data as many children have gone back to school while some other ones have been displaced by insurgency.
The data deficit prompted the commission to embark on a National Personnel Audit (NPA), which is currently going on across the federation in order to track the standard of education at the basic level using a technologically based method called GPS to provide reliable data.
The Global Positioning System (GPS) is a vital part of surveying and mapping activities being widely used for surveying throughout the world. Using a GPS technology is a significant method that needs to be applied in collecting data among all the sectors in the country because when a GPS unit receives a signal from GPS satellites, it computes a position. The position computations are stored as coordinates which can be accessed any time of need.
LEADERSHIP Friday was out in the northern part of the country to observe progress on the exercise and the imperative of using GPS in collecting this data. Speaking with our correspondent at the sideline of the tour, the UBEC boss said the commission is hoping that within every three years, it should be able to embark on the exercise so as to have a good knowledge of what is happening in the basic education sector.
He said; “Interestingly, we are involving the National Space Research Development Agency to train our people using GPS to help us in building geographical locations of these schools. This will help us take into account, the authentic mapping of all basic education schools in the country, including existing administrative and management personnel. According to him, there was no point pretending that all is well within the education sector when the system lacked strategic approach to addressing emerging challenges.
“It will provide reliable data for assessing the impact and achievement of the subsector in realisation of the sustainable development Goals (SDGs). It will also feed the acquired data into the national data bank for global reporting in line with Nigeria’s Educational Management Information System (NEMIS) policy.”
The partnership is of significance to the nation because the National Space Research Development Agency, is aimed at helping Nigerians understand and manage the environment and natural resources using space-acquired information. This technology will enable UBEC and the government to better understand the composition of basic education schools in the country.
The enumerators, according to Bobboyi, will use designated high-tech instruments that comprise of electronic GPS equipment and related accessories for easy data capture, collation and processing that will be further made available to every sector in the country. This will go a long way in ensuring that our resources are well planned.
On his part, the chairman, UBEC governing board, Dr Mahmud Muhammad, said what UBEC is conducting around the country today, which has started over six weeks ago, is a national personnel audit. According to him, it is an exercise that UBEC has conducted four years back.
He said: “We are conducting this one which is slightly different from the previous ones. The purpose of the audit is to enumerate all the UBEC institutions in the country, both public and private primary and Junior secondary schools, not only to know the numbers but to also know the number of students, teachers and this time around, unlike the previous audit, we are also including private schools. In the previous audit, only public schools were included and what we realise is that we need complete data for all the schools, both public and private because the school age going children that are in primary or junior secondary, whether in public or private schools, constitute the data that we need for proper planning.
“In addition to including private schools, this time, we are trying to use the current technology to also make sure we know the location of these basic education institutions so the staffs of UBEC and the National Space Research Development Agency are also going onto the premises and taking the coordinates which will also give us the data of location distribution of the schools, which means we can now locate these schools in the country from where they are based.”
With these realities, it has become difficult for policy makers to devise effective policies and responsibly allocate resources. The lack of disintegrated data on out of school children, students’ enrollment, and other criteria is also limiting the ability of foreign bodies, who would like to render helping hand in the country. Without comprehensive data to evaluate government efforts and guide policies, the situation in the country is likely to remain ominous.
Using a GPS technology is a significant method that needs to be applied in collecting data among all the sectors in the country because when a GPS unit receives a signal from GPS satellites, it computes a position.
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