BusinessDay

Privatisation of public schools in Nigeria may aggravate poverty

The Nigerian public education system has challenges ranging from unions’ unending demands, strike actions, facilities deterioration, poor funding, and staff inadequacy. The Nigerian government is almost confused; not too sure how to deal with the myriad problems confronting and emanating from the public education institutions.

The government may have thought of privatising the Nigerian public education institutions as a lasting solution to the multiple problems confronting the education system in Nigeria.

A question of great interest that would come not only from an academic point of view but also from economic policy and public perspectives relates to the consequences of the privatisation of the Nigerian public education system. Privatising the Nigerian public schools would increase poverty, dropouts, and criminality.

Privatising public education institutions in Nigeria may result in higher school fees. Many fixed-income earners in Nigeria are groaning due to high commodity prices in the markets and higher school fees paid to most public education institutions.

Many parents are sacrificing to pay higher school fees to Nigerian public education institutions. Their incomes have not increased for over three years, but commodity prices and school fees have increased geometrically.

Privatising Nigerian public education institutions may aggravate poverty in Nigeria; many parents may not be able to feed themselves once a day and clothe themselves. According to the National Bureau of Statistics, 83 million Nigerians lived in poverty at the end of 2020.

According to the World Bank, about seven million Nigerians were poor in 2021 due to high inflation. Privatising Nigerian public education institutions may drag about 20 million people into poverty.

Privatising the Nigerian public education system may throw millions of Nigerian youth out of school, and increase inequality, criminality, and other vices. Social vices would make Nigerian society uncomfortable for the political class and the rich.

Privatising the Nigerian public education institutions would increase youth unemployment in Nigeria. Increased unemployment has the full potential of lowering the gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate, citizens’ well-being, and government revenue in the economy.

There are many ways to handle the many problems confronting the Nigerian public education system. The public education system is crucial for economic growth and development because it is the centre for innovation and human capital development.

The Nigerian government must shift attention from jumbo elections expenses to the education system by providing adequate funding. The Nigerian education sector has not been adequately funded. It gets meagre allocation from the federal government budget annually. From 2014 to 2022, the sector got the highest allocation of 10.7 percent of the budgeted total expenditure in 2015.

Read also: Addressing learning crisis in Nigeria’s education sector

The funding of the Nigerian education sector falls below the recommended international standard of 15-20 percent of the national budgeted expenditure by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

Nigerian academics and non-academics are among the least-paid workers globally, while the Nigerian political class is among the top highest paid all over, according to Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria.

The Nigerian government must reduce the cost of governance, salaries of political office holders, and corruption. The Nigerian fiscal system is fraudulent, says Godwin Obaseki, governor of Edo state.

The Nigerian political officeholders should develop a love for Nigeria. We have only one Nigeria. A persistent fraudulent fiscal system has the full potential of making Nigeria a colony for the second time.

The Nigerian government should be involved in the functioning of the Nigerian education system. The number of children of the political class and the rich who study in world-class universities abroad may be inadequate to propel the Nigerian economy on the path of growth and development.

The Nigerian government should formulate effective and efficient education policies to check the happenings in the education system. Several education task forces should serve as a control in the Nigerian education system.

The Nigerian government must fund the education sector adequately to provide the necessary facilities for learning and for the recruitment of the required number of academic and non-academic staff for effective performance.

The Nigerian public education system has a series of challenges. The Nigerian government must shift attention to the education system by providing adequate funding, effective policies, and getting involved through dedicated committees to deal with the myriad problems confronting and emanating from the public education institution

Felix Ashakah is economics lecturer at Western Delta University, Oghara

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