• Tuesday, July 16, 2024
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How the unschooled clog Nigeria’s economic development, security, others

How the unschooled clog Nigeria’s economic development, security, others

Nigeria became free from colonial rule in 1960; however, Nigerians are still suppressed and oppressed by maladies such as corruption, tribalism, mediocrity in governance, and the worship of wealth for its own sake, no matter how acquired.

The socioeconomic strength of every country is believed to rise and fall based on its education. Education, experts say, sets people free from structural oppression, fosters social cohesion, and fosters the development of a collective identity necessary for a visionary future.

Experts argue that Nigeria is struggling to develop its economy simply because those trusted with governance have refused to provide its citizens with quality education.

According to the United Nations Children’s Fund’s (UNICEF) recent report, Nigeria’s out-of-school children’s record stands at 18.3 million.

“The country’s education landscape grapples with myriad challenges, undermining the nation’s human capital potential.”

UNICEF described it as an alarming figure, which places it as the country with the highest number of out-of-school children globally.

Quality education as a missing gap

Experts posit that education plays an active role in the socioeconomic development of a nation by actively contributing to educating its people about the necessary character, roles, and obligations of citizenship.

This is obviously the missing gap in Nigeria’s quest for development and socioeconomic well-being. The country’s education landscape grapples with myriad challenges, undermining the nation’s human capital potential.

As of 2020, Nigeria’s Human Capital Index, as assessed by the World Bank, stood at 0.36, positioning it 168th out of 173 countries globally, a marginal improvement from 0.34 in 2018, where it ranked 152nd out of 157 nations surveyed.

Many of Nigeria’s talented manpower is wasting away today simply because of inadequate education. And instead of the leaders developing these talents through education, they are being used as political thugs.

Education is the bedrock of development all over the world. Hence, it makes little sense for the government to build roads, bridges, and infrastructure without building human capacity.

Read also: Nigeria’s economy prioritises macroeconomics over human development — Kingsley Moghalu

Kingsley Moghalu, the president of the Institute for Governance and Economic Transformation, supports this view. He says a well-educated populace not only enhances personal fulfilment but also addresses local challenges, elevates societal well-being, and fosters social cohesion.

“The reason a country like Nigeria still has people going about destroying bridges across the cross is simply because they are not educated. Unschooled citizens do not have the values to appreciate and maintain social investments,” he said.

Education is an important means that countries use to construct nationhood—a shared sense of unity and purpose for the citizens of the state beyond physical statehood.

It can instil in citizens not just a sense of their entitlements but also of their responsibilities and obligations as good citizens.

Education is a powerful tool to construct and inculcate worldviews, a personal and collective sense of identity, ambition, the values that underpin society and its ambitions for each citizen and collectively, and a nation’s sense of destiny.

Nigeria loses over N46 billion to unschooled destructive acts

David Umahi, the minister of works, revealed during his assessment visit to Lagos earlier in the year that the federal government has contracted Julius Berger to rehabilitate the underwater damage to the Third Mainland and Carter Bridges at a cost of N46 billion.

“This afternoon, we looked at the critical infrastructure at the Third Mainland and Carter bridges. These two critical infrastructures, along with the Eko Bridge, bring people to the island. Presently, only the Eko Bridge is allowed to take heavy-duty vehicles because of the critical challenges.

“The cost of repairing the underwater damage at the Third Mainland Bridge is N21 billion, while for the Carter Bridge, the cost is N25 billion. Already, Julius Berger is working on it and has been mobilised with the sum of N6 billion and N7 billion, respectively,” he said.

Furthermore, the minister explained that there are three critical underwater challenges affecting the structures, which are the depletion of the slabs, and for that one, he said there is nothing to worry about because the ministry is going to repair it like it did with the Eko Bridge.

Other challenges are the deterioration of the pie caps and the cover to the pie caps, among others.

According to the minister, the cause of these critical challenges is the illegal mining of the sands.

The illegal mining of sands under these bridges is mostly done by the unschooled, seeking survival by all means.

This is no doubt a precarious situation; the amount of money the federal government is spending to repair two bridges in one state out of the 36 is almost the same as what is allocated to the student loan scheme.

Again, this reveals where the priority of the government lies. Currently, Nigeria has about 18.3 million children who are not in school, even though primary education is said to be free.

How the government underdeveloped education

Over time, the Nigerian government has refused to fund education, resulting in unskilled and unschooled citizens. Despite UNESCO’s recommendation that developing nations allocate 10-15 percent of their budgets to the education sector, Nigeria’s education budget allocation will be as low as 7.9 percent in 2024.

Besides, both the World Bank and UNESCO disclosed that a minimum of 20 percent of teachers in Nigeria’s public basic education institutions lack the necessary qualifications. Furthermore, the quality of Nigeria’s education system suffers from deficient educational infrastructure.

The Nigerian government should take a leaf from the Seychelles that prioritises education. According to a UNESCO report, the Seychelles government spent 11.72 percent of its total expenditure on education in 2016.

From its inception, the Seychelles took a radical approach to the development of its education system with various innovations and inclusions, which, today, has led it to be recognised as the first and only African country to fully achieve the ‘education for all’ goal, set by UNESCO.

In the Seychelles, education is compulsory for children through primary school and secondary school up to the age of 16, using a system where students must pay for uniforms but not books or tuition, and parents are allowed to choose where to take their children, either to public or private schools.

Uzo Uchenna, professor of marketing at Lagos Business School, described as disturbing the fact that the country has over 18 million uneducated children.

“It’s really sad to learn that over 18 million Nigerian youths are uneducated, which means that they’ve started on the wrong footing and there’s no bright future ahead for them,” he said.

Uchenna disclosed that when people like this start to despair, it leads to an increased level of crime, unemployment, and instability, which is not good for the country.

He admonished the government to increase its allocation to education, as witnessed in many advanced countries.

“For education to be strong, at the very least 10 percent of our budgetary allocation should go to education to equip the schools with the right facilities. In any well-developed country, if you compare what they spend on education, you will see that Nigeria is really far behind,” he stated.

Besides, he urged the government to embrace vocational education as a way of equipping the youth to fend for themselves instead of focusing on tertiary learning alone.

“There is a lot of vocational education and a lot of skills that people can acquire; they don’t all need to be graduates to acquire those skills; some of them can start businesses of their own so they can feed themselves and their families,” he said.

“Beyond that, I think that the government can create some kind of incentive for private bodies that do educational CSR by giving them tax exemptions; if they get tax exemptions and other benefits, it will widen the scope of services they render to the communities,” he added.

Unschooled as a fulcrum for militancy and youth violence

It is an undeniable fact that youth violence, terrorism, and gangsterism have reached unprecedented proportions, fueled by a lack of adequate education among the citizens.

And this is having negative impacts on Nigeria’s security, economy, and social development.

Some months ago, Umahi disclosed that the third section of the coastal highway meant to commence from Cross River State was preoccupied by militants, which he said has made it difficult for the government to continue with its initial plans.

“We have challenges because part of the road is being encumbered by militants, and so instead of waiting for them to clear, we have to procure another road, and the design is almost complete. It is about 50 kilometres,” he noted.

For over a decade, a number of militant groups have operated along the coastal areas of Ondo, Edo, Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers, Imo, Abia, Akwa Ibom, and Cross River.

If the government is sincere, the best approach to militant resilience is a soft security governance approach. By providing soft security, the government will be more committed to providing essential amenities, which include but are not limited to quality education, to the citizenry.