As a year one student of the University of Lagos (UNILAG) Akoka Campus, leads the BusinessDay reporter on an inspection of the hostels, they passed through heaps of refuse dumps on the corridor.
The toilets remained unflushed as a result of a lack of water, while puddles of putrid water and the acrid smell of urine filled the air.
“The environment is inhabitable and the conditions of the classrooms make some students become truants, as they avoid lectures like the plague,” the impromptu tour guide of the department of Dentistry, says.
“We are suffering in silence as the population of students overwhelms the available facilities.”
The failure of Government run Education in Nigeria is highlighting the need for a new funding model for the nation’s schools, especially at the tertiary level.
Classes are frequently interrupted by strikes or absent teachers. Many instructors don’t have adequate training and a powerful union (ASUU) limits government oversight.
The country spends 1/10thof its budget on education which is lower than the World Bank bench mark of 26 percent.
The 2014 budget proposal put before the National Assembly by President Goodluck Jonathan ,shows that education as a whole got N493 billion, 13 percent higher than last year’s estimate and 10 percent of the total budget of N4.6 trillion.
A further analysis shows that universities were allocated a total of N222 billion, which is 45 percent of the total budget estimate and a marginal increase of 1 percent from last year’s figure of N219 billion.
Nigeria however ranked 120th in higher education and training among the 148 countries profiled in the 2013 World Economic Forum ranking, a sign of the inadequacy of Government education spending.
According to the West African Examinations Council (WACE), only 86,612 candidates representing 29.17 percent of the total number of candidates who sat for the November/December examination obtained credits in five subjects and above, including English Language and Mathematics.
Despite 23.9 percent of the unemployment rate, companies also often find it difficult to fill available job openings due to dearth of skills by Nigerian graduates.
“We run our IT support services from outside the country due to the unavailability of qualified Nigerian engineers,” said the CEO of a major e-commerce company in a recent interview with BusinessDay.
“Most firms prefer to hire engineers and welders in their fifties, as they are more competent and have the required training” said another CEO in the oil sector.
Some analysts have been increasingly blaming the profound education crisis on lack of financial intelligence on the part of the universities and over- dependence on government for funding.
Higher institutions can make money through consultancy, endowment funds, and strong Alumni networks which serve a means of raising funds for research purpose according to Emeka Ezionu, a professor of Biochemistry at the Nnamdi Azikwe University Akwa, in an interview with BusinessDay .
“Harvard University endowment fund dropped from $32 billion (N5.12 trillion) to $30 billion (N4.8 trillion) which is 11 percent of the Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and 4 percent higher than the 2014 budget,” he said.
Wale Osidare, 51, a civil servant, who has two children in the university, says that incessant strike action’s delay a child’s education, while the financial plans of parents are often eroded.
“An average civil servant has to look for means of augmenting his income, otherwise he may be unable to send his children to higher institutions” he said.
The National Bureau of Statistics (2011) and National Universities Commission (2010) report that the number of universities in Nigeria, have increased from 89 in 2006 to 113 in 2011.
The NBS/NUC report went further to state that University students’ enrolment rose from 349,502 in 2002/2003 to 605,068 in 2009/2010 representing 96.01 percent increase in enrolment.
Meanwhile 71 percent of the 2014 education budget is going into funding recurrent expenditure, with little left for investment in capital projects.
“Harvard is funded by more than 500 firms, the Nigeria government can increase tax incentives for companies to fund universities,” said Ezeonu.
By: BALA AUGIE