BusinessDay

Transforming the Nigerian education sector (I)

Education is the most potent weapon that we can use to change the world. It refers to acquiring information, values, skills, beliefs, and moral habits.

Everyone needs to get a proper and good education as it promotes quality learning throughout the life of individuals of all ages, classes, creeds, religions, and regions.

The United Nations General Assembly in 2018 proclaimed January 24 as the International Day of Education to celebrate the role of education in promoting global peace and sustainable development.

The world celebrated the fourth International Day of Education with the theme “Changing Course, Transforming Education.” This year’s International Day of Education showcases the most fundamental transformations that the country must sustain to realise the fundamental right of everyone to education and form a more sustainable, inclusive, and peaceful future.

According to UNICEF, the education system can be transformed by adequate funding.

Over the years, Nigeria’s education sector has not received sufficient funding. In July, the Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari, at the Global Education Summit in London, pledged to increase the expenditure on education by 50 percent in 2022 and 2023 and by 100 percent by 2025.

However, the education sector only receives 7.2 percent of the N17 trillion 2022 budget. Although this is an improvement over the 5.7 percent budgeted for 2021, there is still a long way before reaching the internationally accepted benchmark of 15-20 percent of national budgets to be spent on education.

The school sector faces infrastructure deterioration due to the lack of proper funding, as renovations are yet to be carried out in most institutions built many years ago. Also, kidnappers and bandits destroy school buildings, especially in the northern part of the country.

The level of insecurity in the country contributed to the challenges of the educational sector in achieving proper education.

The UNICEF report shows that 25 schools were attacked in 2021; 1,440 children were kidnapped, with 16 killed. In March 2021, 618 schools in six northern states (Sokoto, Zamfara, Kano, Katsina, Niger, and Yobe) were shuttered due to the threat of attack and abduction of students and teachers. For more than two months, the closure of schools in these states contributed considerably to learning losses.

Experts believe that, given the current level of insecurity in the country, the number of children out of school will rise.

Despite the country’s free and mandatory primary education, Nigeria has the highest rate of out-of-school children globally, with at least 10.5 million children aged 5-14 years out of school. The UNICEF report also shows that one-third of Nigerian children are not in school, and Nigerians account for one out of every five out-of-school children worldwide.

Statistics further show that 35 percent of children who attended primary school did not continue their education to the secondary school level. In 2021, half of the children in Nigeria did not participate in secondary school.

One of the dominant reasons for never attending school is the lack of interest by the parents in allowing their children to go to school as 43.0 percent of males and 56.8 percent of female respondents indicated this reason. Some other causes include cultural and traditional norms as well as economic issues.

The Sustainable Development Goal 4 aims to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all by 2030. This implies that all girls and boys complete free primary and secondary schooling by 2030. However, the NLSS report shows that more male children have more years of education, 6.6 years, than female children with 5.6 years of schooling. This assertion is applicable in both urban and rural areas of the country.

Read also: Diaspora remittance is enabling access to education

Furthermore, COVID-19 also posed a threat to the education sector. Upon resumption after the ease of lockdown due to the pandemic, schools experienced more decline in the attendance rate.

The Nigeria Living Standard Survey (NLSS) report shows that children of primary school age have a net attendance rate of 65.9 percent, 38.2 percent in junior secondary school, and 33.8 percent in senior secondary school. This shows that the net attendance rate declines with the level of education. UNICEF also stated that the northern part of the country experienced the worst net attendance rate at 53 percent.

In addition, the education sector is plagued with a high rate of bullying among students and students and teachers and students. Cultism is now in our primary and secondary schools. Also, children are exposed to hard drugs, among other atrocities found in the system.

The controversial case of Sylvester Oromoni, a JSS 2 student of Dowen College, quickly comes to mind. Although social media reported several autopsy reports about Sylvester making it controversial, we still have several school children being bullied by their friends, seniors, or teachers. This affects these students psychologically, physically, and academically.

The education system is also corrupt to the extent that you can hardly trust anyone with your wards. A good example currently making waves on the media is the case of the five-year-old primary school girl, Hanifa Abubakar, in Kano kidnapped and killed by the school’s proprietor.

Busayo Aderounmu is an economics lecturer at Covenant University, Ota, Ogun State.

Get real time updates directly on you device, subscribe now.