The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) adopted in 2000 at the United Nations Millennium Declaration has two of the eight goals devoted to education. They are goal 2 (to achieve universal primary education) and goal 3 (to promote gender equality and empower women). The aim of MDGs is to encourage development by improving social and economic conditions in the world’s poorest countries
The ability to acquire and utilize knowledge and skills effectively is the key to the growth and development that will impel Nigeria to become one of the 20 largest economies by the year 2020. A modern and vibrant education system entails wide ranging activities that would ensure functional, qualitative education of the highest possible standards at basic, post-basic and tertiary levels. The primary goals to achieve this include providing access to quality education at all levels, improved learning and teaching infrastructure, according greater importance to science, information technology, technical, vocational education and training.
Considering what some analyst have termed the faltering nature of Nigeria’s education sector over the years, many Nigerian scholars and educationists are raising the alarm over the preparedness of the country to meet this target. While some argue that the indices that can drive the process and make it achievable are not in place, others say that the learning conditions in many schools across the country are nothing to exult and opine that the nation may not attain the set MDGs and targets by 2015. According to them, though successive administrations in the country have worked towards ensuring that compulsory Universal Basic Primary Education becomes the right of every Nigerian child, achievements so far in the sector leave much to be desired
An appraisal of Nigeria’s performance over the last fourteen years revealed that progress towards MDGs targets has been made but, it is less than satisfactory.
Nigeria’s progress based on net enrolment showed that six out of ten eligible children are now in school from the universal primary education program interventions and enrolment in private schools. However, disadvantaged groups are still excluded and the quality of education remains very poor. Similarly, there was a decline in literacy rate culminating into an average literacy rate of 66 per cent.
In terms of gender equality and women empowerment, the ratio of girls to boys in primary and secondary education, measured with gender parity index was used as the indicator. The gender parity index in primary education was 1.0, while secondary school parity index was 1.02, which implies that for every male child in primary and secondary school, there is a female child. With this, the country has met the MDGs’ benchmark on gender parity in both primary and secondary education ahead of 2015.
Reports indicate that the delivery of education in Nigeria has suffered from years of neglect, compounded by inadequate attention to policy frameworks within the sector. The implementation of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) has been affected by corruption, gross inefficiency, wastefulness and duplication of projects in the same areas by the Federal government and donor agencies.
Consequently, we believe that the likelihood of every Nigerian child accessing basic education by 2015, in line with the MDGs, is remote. Massive actions still need to be done in teacher education and the development of infrastructure. There is need for proper implementation of the Universal Basic Education (UBE) Act and ensuring that all forms of fees are abolished; Provision of infrastructures such as classrooms across all levels would ease overcrowding, increase access and reduce pupil/teacher ratio; enhance the efficiency, resourcefulness, and competence of teachers and other educational personnel through training, capacity building, and motivation; re-establish and enforce guidelines for standards and education quality assurance. And moreover, there is need for tracking of resources to ensure proper, adequate and accountable utilization of resources budgeted for education.