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Education Sector : The Way Forward #opesays

 

                                      THE BUDGET

President Goodluck Jonathan in October presented a N4.9trn budget proposal to the National Assembly for the 2013 fiscal year. Education, Defence and Police were allocated the highest share of N1.095trn. A breakdown of the N1.095trn shows the Education sector getting N426.53bn. Rejoice not, for this is not good news. At N426.53bn, the allocation for education is only about 8.7 % of the entire budget, less than the 13.6% allocated to security. In the 2012 fiscal year N400.15 billion was allocated for education, a meagre 8.43 % of the entire budget. This is the real news: Out of this, N345.091bn (82%) was allotted to recurrent expenditure, N317.896bn was proposed for personnel cost, N27.192bn was for overheads, while a meagre N55.056bn (18%) was for capital expenditure and Federal allocation. What this means is that only a meagre N55.056bn will actually be put to work to improve the sector and this is only if that money comes out ‘unscathed’ from the traps embezzlement and corruption that pervades the system. Another pertinent question to ask is if the amount will be released fully and the implementation carried out without a hitch.

A look at the World Bank report below, of the annual budgetary allocation to education by some countries is saddening. Nigeria ranks last at 8.4% and Ghana ranks highest at 31.0%. This is from a country that prides herself on being the Giant of Africa. Several smaller African countries are allocating more to their educational sectors, than Nigeria, the second largest and the most populated country in Africa. A minimum budgetary allocation of 26% was recommended by UNESCO and Nigeria lags behind, averaging a meagre 9%. This shows how seriously the government takes education.

 

 

Grants and foreign aids have not also alleviated the plethora of issues battling the education sector. The Nigerian government has not put in place appropriate policy measures that would monitor the maximum and effective utilization of foreign aids. The United States has supplied Nigeria with foreign aid for years, with little to show for the effort. Foreign aid mostly goes into the hands of corrupt bureaucrats who just end up siphoning the money away into their own pockets.

WHAT’S WRONG?

This neglect has led to several problems in our education sector:

 

  1. Basic infrastructures and resources – dilapidated school buildings and grossly inadequate facilities, resulting in poor learning environment; ii). poor quality and insufficient number of teaching staff at all levels; iii) inconsistent and ill-conceived policies and slothfulness in following through approved education policies

  2. Insufficient funding and a penchant for misusing approved funding.

  3. Poor remuneration for teachers, which triggers a lackadaisical attitude to work.

  4. High dropout rate. Data from the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) in 2010 shows that 31.2 million students dropped out of school and may never return.

  5. The rate of creation of new universities without adequate provision and long term planning. At the last count, we had 117 universities, fifteen of them created in 2011.

  6. The end result is poor quality of teaching, and research, producing half-baked graduates with worthless certificates. The ease of production of graduates with PhD degrees, a requirement for teaching in Nigeria universities is another worrisome trend.

  7. Nigerian schools tend to emphasize the learning of theories to the detriment of technical knowledge, vocational know-how and entrepreneurial skills.

  8. No new materials, content and methods of teaching. The same research and syllabi from years back are what we are still using till date. The world is moving ahead with mobile and e-learning methods that make learning flexible, fun and time and cost-effective. A course I’m taking in Stanford University’s Venture Lab Initiative, Designing New Learning Environments, made we weep for our educational system. It showed that we need a paradigm shift and serious reforms in the system.

  9. Our public school system, which used to serve as the great leveler, now reeks of failure. It is no longer uncommon to see pupils taking lessons under trees in several states.
  10. Does Nigeria possess the necessary elements to develop a national innovation system? The facts are not encouraging. In fact, there are no incentives in place to innovate. According to Task Force, Nigeria’s number of scientific publications for 1995 was 711 – significantly less than its output of 1,062 scientific publications in 1981. In contrast, scientific publications were 3,413 for South Africa, 14,883 for India, and 5,440 for Brazil.
  11. Our educational system is still rooted in the ideals of the Industrial Age, while the world has long moved forward to the Technological Age. We cannot continue to equip our future leaders for global domination with rotten tools from the past.

    WHAT CAN BE DONE

    Human capital theory emphasizes education as enhancing the productive capacities of individuals. Education remains the bedrock for the development of any nation. In fact, education is the driving force behind the socioeconomic advancement of nations. When people are taught right, they think right, act right and they can bring about change. We need to raise global products locally that can compete with their counterparts all over the world.

    • We would need time to look at how the budget to the sector should be allocated, where it should be channeled, the implementation, and how it should be managed. The allocation will help to improve education in all areas in terms of infrastructure and welfare of teachers and workers in the sector.

    • A policy review and new initiatives are needed towards repositioning the sector for optimal performance.

    • Speedy implementation of education sector reforms

    • Bureaucracy, due to over centralization may be stifling the development of the education sector. This is why the participation of individuals and communities is required.

    • Annual training and retraining of teachers to meet the challenges of teaching in 21stcentury schools.

    • The curriculum at most of the institutions are not robust and dynamic enough to meet the changing needs of our world. The curriculum calls for drastic review so that it can be more suited to the realities of today’s world. Introduction of vocational, enterprise and technical training will improve the overall quality of education.

    WHAT NOW?

    How can we as citizens actively engage in the system and contribute our own quota?

    • We can form budget coalitions to strategize, discuss ideas, demand accountability and engage with the National Assembly.

    • We can volunteer to contribute skills and transfer our wealth of knowledge to students. We can do this by volunteering our services for seminars and workshops.

    Opemipo Adebanjo

           @opesays on Twitter

#opesays is a column published every Friday on this website

 

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2 comments

  1. Ope, God bless you.

    We keep screaming these things day and night but the stake holders seems to be deaf to our cries. What we can do as citizens is limited.

    The government needs to prioritize education and shift it spending focus to this critical sector.

    It grieves my heart to see the rot in our education sector, it we don’t priotize it, we are setting ourselves up for destruction

  2. Very technical article. Well done.

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