Nations have developed by paying adequate attention to the development of their human capital. Countries like the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, France are global players today because of the quality of their human resources. Even emerging markets like Malaysia, Indonesia and South Korea invested in education to become players at the global stage. That is not the case in Nigeria going by the little investment that is going into the education sector at the federal and sub national levels.
According to a documentary broadcast by BBC in 2018, “More children than ever are going to school but tens of millions are still not getting an education.” More children, who will grow to become youths, and leaders in the nation, become more valuable if they are well educated. Education has for long brought about enlightenment and substantial growth to the world.
Education in Nigeria, has a breathing policy upon which every child that lives in the nation, is presented. It is imperative that a child should be in the first phase of schooling between the ages of 6 and 15. Although, this seems to be the norm, but it is not always. A report from Statista shows that less than 40 per cent pupils participate in the crèche, kindergarten and nursery school system which is conventionally the basic phase of learning.
According to a 2021 survey conducted in Nigeria, Simona Varrella, a research expert stated the mean age at school enrolment was higher in rural than in urban areas of the country. She stated that the young respondents from the rural Nigeria averagely started school at 5.5 years old, while those in the urban areas were initiated into the school system about a year earlier. Substantially, it also depicted that the average age of starting to work is higher in the urban areas if compared to the rural areas.
In 2018, Nigeria recorded 22.4 million children who enrolled into public primary schools (mostly state and federal government owned), and 5.5 million pupils enrolled into private primary schools within the entire nation. About 7.2 million children in the nation were enrolled into the early education programs, 27.9 million pupils enrolled into the elementary school education, while 6.8 million students were enrolled and registered into the junior secondary school education system. In the same year 2018, Nigerian universities admitted 1.8 million undergraduate students, and 242,000 post graduate students.
According to a fact sheet published in 2016, while enrolments into elementary schools depicted an increase, the transition rate to secondary schools decreased. The survey indicated that in 2007, primary school completion rate stood at 36 per cent, and increased to 73.4 per cent in 2011, but fell to 63 per cent in 2016/17. The rate stood at 77 per cent in 2020, whereas the transition rate to secondary school, which is supposedly the next phase of education, was 93 per cent in 2007, 70 per cent in 2011, and 49 percent in 2016/17.
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The education system in Nigeria is affected by a number of reasons. Some of the challenges are the unfavourable economy situation, cultures, beliefs, and the high level of insecurity in the nation, particularly, the northern region of the nation. These have increased the level of out of school children according to a report from UNICEF.
Some northern citizens have openly expressed how they are financially unable to provide the kind of education that is needed for their career growth. This is mostly due to the position of the economy breakdown in the north due to the insecurity. According to the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), there are over 13 million school-age children who are out of school. The body reported that just as there are no new policies to boost the system of education in the nation, the Nigeria’s budgetary spending on education is also not enough.
In 2019, the Nigeria’s expenditure on education amounted to 7.12 per cent of the total federal budget. The allocation of shares kept fluctuating as the years progressed. The allocation shares for education fell from 10.79 per cent in 2015 to 7.9 percent in 2016, and to 6.13 per cent in 2017. By 2018, the expenditure on education stood at 7.15 per cent, and decreased by -0.42 percent as the allocation amounted to 7.12 in 2019, and hit 6.7 per cent in 2020. The expenditure on education in 2021 stood at 5.6 per cent, which was below the endorsed standard. It was also reported to be the lowest share for education in ten years.
Education will become more effectual for the people and nation if it is richly invested in, just as any other infrastructure built- roads, buildings and systems will need to be upgraded. This is the same way education will become more relevant if it is well invested in.
This validates the opinion that says the federal government does not value the outputs that can be generated from the younger generation, when it comes to education as it seems that education is no longer appreciated, nor is it encouraged.
Some citizens have subscribed to modern day kind of learning where they watch and learn various subjects of interest on the internet, but this cannot be enough because of its surface level and other factors involved.
Education is fast becoming more than the western education, and classroom learning, especially among youths in Nigeria, the nation’s assets. Due to rapid expansion and popularity of technology and its innovation, information is commonly and readily passed from one person to another speedily.
UNICEF has announced that in their education programme, the aim is to render support to the government in achieving SDG 4 through improving planning and policy formulation that will enhance the implementation of an effective education strategy for education.
In 2020, some countries in Africa, like Seychelles has been announced in 2020 as ones of the African countries with the best education system. UNESCO, in 2016, presented a report which states that the government of Seychelles spent about 11.7 per cent of the total national expenditure on education, building foundations and system policies that provide unrestricted and obligatory education for children between the age of 3 and 16.
South Africa has also been ranked as one of the African countries with the best systems of education in the continent, also ranking 84th in the world, is a citadel of leaning for many, and other African citizens. Over 18 per cent of the yearly budget is invested into agriculture, and the government invests severely into the level of literacy of the citizens. Mauritus, a relatively small island in Africa has also been making profound steps in its educational; system, although its economy is majorly driven by agriculture. Tunisia, one of the east African countries is positioned on the seat of countries with the best education ranking 4th in Africa, and 71st globally. Tunisia’s model for a better educational system can be traced to its joint ventures with private individuals, which boosts the educational system to the benefit of the general population.
Cape Verde seems to be the only country; Island in West Africa who values education as much as being amongst the top ten countries in Africa with the best system of education. Cape Verde is currently positioned at the 98th globally, it is ranked 53rd in the area of critical thinking in teaching, and 71st on the ease of finding skilled employees all around the globe.