Universal Basic Education Board has approved the location of one of its smart schools in Kwara State — another major fruit of Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq’s investments in basic education.
UBEC had earlier approved the construction of the first set of the smart schools in 2019 in 20 states but Kwara was clearly not considered because of its pariah status between 2013 and 2019.
Designed to offer 21st century education, the ‘smart school’ would comprise comprehensive IT-enabled basic classes that would accommodate preschoolers, primary classes and junior secondary school classes, fitted with accessories like e-libraries, clinic and laboratories that make a complete school in the internet age.
UBEC preconditions contained in the award letter included that the school be sited at a secured location in the capital town of the beneficiary states.
Speaking at the inspection of the proposed site for the school in Ilorin on Saturday, UBEC national consultant for the project Prof. Masud Abdulkareem said they were in the state to conclude all preliminary works, including suitability of the site, prior to the construction which will take 12 months.
Abdulkareem, a professor of architecture, described the smart school concept introduced by UBEC chief Dr. Hamid Bobboyi as a game changer in basic education in Nigeria.
His words: “With a smart school, a teacher at UBEC headquarters in Abuja or anywhere in the world can teach simultaneously to students in all the schools in Nigeria. UBEC has engaged one of best ICT companies in the world a leading (Huawei). It is the one to equip and provide the software for the learning materials.
“This is the second phase of smart school proposed by UBEC. This team is sent by the Executive Secretary of UBEC to come and access the suitability of the site. I have a team of experts that will do the geo-technical and geophysical survey to establish the appropriateness and capacity of the soil so that the foundation will be done.
“We are lucky from what I am seeing because the first criteria is that the school must be within a community as this one. It is not in an isolated location so that security will not becomes a problem. We have seen that this place is very secured in a fenced environment.
“So, here we don’t have the problem of suitability. The proposed smart school has three components — for nursery, primary and junior secondary schools. With the programme, a three-year old can come to school safely. This place is ideal for the project. Within a week, we will produce the foundation engineering drawing so that the construction work will start.
“This exercise is also to handover the place to the contractor and begin the process of mobilisation. The school is expected to be self-sufficient in terms of water supply and electricity supply.
“UBEC is giving the minimum and later handover to SUBEB after completion. The state can begin to think of how to make the school a hub of ICT for the benefit of the state.”
UBEC Contractor-in-charge of the project Alhaji Abdulkadir Umar promised to deliver a quality job in line with the specifications.
Chairman of Kwara State Universal Basic Education Board, Prof. Shehu Raheem Adaramaja said the state could have been a part of the first batch, which it did not make as a result of the strained relationship the former administration had with the agency over non-payment of counterpart funds and diversion of funds.
“We appreciate the UBEC for the consideration given to us and for the selection of the contractor. We pray that the contractor will work very fast and make the facility available for Kwarans,” he said.
“We have talked to ourselves and we will do everything possible to assist the contractor to ensure that the construction will not last more than 12 months as given to us. Anything that will make it last longer than 12 months, Kwarans and of course our governor will not take it from us. We will not compromise on quality jobs.”
The Governor had only recently reset the relationship between Kwara and UBEC by paying back funds diverted by the former administration and paying backlog of counterpart funds not accessed since 2013.
This has unlocked various opportunities for the state in the basic education sector, including ongoing construction works across 600 schools in the state.