BusinessDay
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Buhari proposes N127bn for capital expenditure in education

President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, has proposed a capital expenditure of N127 billion for the Ministry of Education in the 2021 appropriation bill he submitted to the National Assembly on Thursday.

Buhari also proposed N70 billion for the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) while proposing N545.10 billion for Ministry of Education in the recurrent expenditure in his budget speech.

The N127 billion proposed for capital expenditure for the education ministry for 2021 is higher than the N48 billion in 2020 and N47.2bn in 2019 for this pivotal sector.

According to the president budget speech, there was however a reduction in the allocation for Universal basic education commission (UBEC) for 2021 when compared to N112 billion that was budgeted in 2020, UBEC was allocated N70 billion in the 2021 appropriation bill.

In the 2019 budget N113.9 billion was allocated to UBEC. In 2018, the budget was N109.06 billion and N95 billion in 2017.

BusinessDay finding indicated that the Federal Government budgeted N398billion for education in 2017. In 2018, The president initially proposed N496.9billion, but it was raised to about N605.8billion by the National Assembly. Incidentally, the budget was later cut as part of the virement for the Independent National Electoral Commission to prepare for next February’s polls.

Although the N605 billion allocated to the education sector in 2018 was higher in naira terms than the N550 billion allocated in 2017, there was a decrease in percentage terms. The breakdown of the 2017 allocation was N398 billion for recurrent expenditure, N56 billion for capital expenditure and N95 billion to UBEC.

President Buhari while presenting the N13.08 trillion proposed Appropriation bill for 2021 which he themed ‘Budget of Economic Recovery and Resilience’, noted that the budget is expected to accelerate the pace of Nigeria’s economic recovery, promote economic diversification, enhance competitiveness and ensure social inclusion.

He further noted that the Ministry of Education’s capital allocation has been increased by 65 percent to improve the education of our children. Funds have been provided for the provision of scholarship awards to Nigerian students at home and abroad.

According to Buhari, “We have provided funds for the upgrade of security and other infrastructural facilities in our Unity Colleges nationwide. To improve access to education, we have made provision for the establishment of five new Federal Science and Technical Colleges. We have also provided for the payment of allowances to 5,000 teachers under the Federal Teachers Scheme”.

However the decrease in the amount allocated to UBEC in the 2021 budget educationists decry is a bad move by the government given the menace of the increased number of out-of-school-children which if not addressed especially during this Covid-19 period may spell doom for the future generation.

Also, the Federal Ministry of Education is expected to adequately cater for the 28 parastatals as well as 43 federal universities, over 25 federal polytechnics, 21 federal colleges of education and 104 federal unity schools directly under its care with the funding.

Over the years, the country’s funding for education continued to rotate between five per cent, six per cent and seven per cent of the national budget.

The importance of the education sector in our national development aspirations cannot be over stressed. The Nigerian budget for education is less than 10 percent says Aderemi Aaron-Anthony Atayero, immediate past Vice-Chancellor, Covenant University, Otta Ogun State.

Analysts observe that the constant below par budgetary allocation to education has several notable downsides at all levels. They opine that Basic education is still characterised by low net enrolment as about 8.5 million children are out of school. School infrastructure has not caught up with increasing enrolment.

Peter Okebukola, former executive secretary of the Nigerian Universities Commission (NUC), said he expects the Muhammadu Buhari administration to improve funding across all levels of education.

He observes that such a move would increase capital development to aid teaching and learning, adding that the Nigerian education system is not up to the level it should be.

Aderemi Aaron-Anthony Atayero, opines that the solutions to the socio-political and economic problems in Nigeria lie in quality and sustainable education. I boldly state that any investment in the education sector is an investment in the future of Nigeria.

“Quality and sustainable education has the potential to create employment, improve wellness, and create a well-informed or politically-informed citizenry. Therefore, I want to appeal that Government should declare a state of emergency in this sector and devise a developmental plan that will address and remedy the problem of access and quality within a specified period. There is need for massive infrastructural development in this sector”, he said.

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