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Stakeholders seek greater commitment to the sector in the coming year It can be argued that significant progress has been made in the education sector over the years, particularly the increase in the number of institutions at all levels.
For example, upon independence in the 1960s, Nigeria had only five universities: the University of Ibadan (UI), established in 1948; University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN), 1960; Obafemi Awolowo University (OUA) Ile-Ife, 1961; Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, 1962 and University of Lagos (UNILAG) 1962.
The number of universities has grown exponentially, while polytechnics, higher education institutions and other higher education institutions have continued to multiply almost daily. Primary and secondary schools are not left out with many reforms also underway.
For example, over the past year, President Muhammadu Buhari approved the establishment of eight new polytechnics and six educational colleges in states that had none. It also approved the establishment of four new specialized universities of technology and health, with a seed grant of 4 billion naira each for universities of technology and 5 billion naira each for universities of health sciences from financing resources from TETFund.
The president also promised to improve teachers’ pay, increase their retirement age from 60 to 65 and years of service from 35 to 40.
During this year’s World Teachers’ Day celebration in Abuja, President Buhari also announced his intention to pay undergraduates who take education courses at universities and colleges.
He said the federal government has allocated N 75,000 per semester for undergraduates exploring education programs at federal or state institutions, and N 50,000 for those enrolling in the NCE program.
Buhari added that to register adequate achievements in the sector, there would be a total overhaul, in particular, in providing a safe and secure environment for learners and teachers.
He noted that the availability of professional teachers, a strong political will on the part of the government to invest in education and the establishment of an adequate funding mechanism are all the priorities of his administration to achieve a better educational system.
During the year under review, the federal government also launched the Better Education Service Delivery for All (BESDA) initiative in 17 states to tackle the problem of out-of-school children. The program resulted in an additional enrollment of 1,053,422 children at the primary level.
Education Minister Mallam Adamu Adamu revealed that the BESDA initiative has helped drastically reduce the number of out-of-school children, adding that his ministry is working with the National Association of School Owners and Owners to further reduce that number.
He said the association had taken more than a million out-of-school children from the streets, with each private school sponsoring five students.
Adamu said, âAs part of the BESDA initiative, the federal government has secured a $ 611 million World Bank credit facility to help 17 states strengthen universal basic education (UBE). So far, we have launched BESDA in 10 states including Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Ebonyi, Kano, Oyo, Yobe, Niger and Zamfara states.
Despite the growth of institutions, stakeholders observed that many challenges are facing the sector, they range from insufficient funding, broken promises, non-implementation of policies, shortage of qualified teachers, poor teaching and learning infrastructure, non-payment of salaries. , social unrest, bigotry, exam abuse, corruption and maladministration, and in some cases outright neglect of the sector at different levels of governance.
Experts also lamented that the billions of naira allocated to the sector at different levels of government barely flowed into classrooms, where it would have positively impacted pupils and students in terms of quality outcomes.
They argued that all of these have a negative impact on the systems’ products and, as such, cannot support the development of the workforce needed to drive the country’s economy to a glorious end.
An educator, Paul Odunuga, said one of the main challenges facing the sector is the burden of more than 10.1 million out-of-school children. For him, although there were some positive developments during the year, they did not translate into any significant development expected in the sector.
Odunuga also identified other issues facing the sector such as insufficient funding from government at all levels, poor practice of exams with teachers and parents helping practice, poor well-being of staff, inconsistent policies, poor teaching and learning environment and insecurity, among others.
He lamented that the poor state of education in the country has been compounded by the growing insecurity in the country. Odunuga said relentless attacks on schools and kidnappings of students for ransom have led to the closure of many schools in parts of the north of the country.
Former Vice Chancellor of Bells University of Technology, Ota, Ogun State, Professor Adebayo Adeyemi, noted that the lack of funding, uncoordinated management of the sector, insecurity and the COVID-pandemic 19 contributed to the industry’s current low rating.
Adeyemi said the sector did not perform well as expected. âUndoubtedly, there are other conflicting issues such as the relentless labor protests, the government is not playing the expected role mainly due to the state of the economy.
Nigerian Confederation of Secondary School Principals (ANCOPSS) National President Anselm Isuagie said that as long as government at all levels continues to allocate less than 26% of their annual budgets to education, the sector would not produce the desired results. .
An officer of the University of Ibadan Academic Staff Union (ASUU), who requested anonymity, said that in addition to insufficient funding, the federal government has not been true to the agreements .
The union leader regretted that the federal government did not honor its agreement with the ASUU, which led to the suspension of the strike in December 2020. âSome of us believe that if the government faithfully follows the protocol of agreement reached with the ASUU, the universities of the country will see a turnaround.
âThe allocation to the sector is not to celebrate either. It only represents about eight percent of the entire budget. The government should follow the recommendations of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) by allocating more to the sector.
For Professor Sheriffdeen Tella, the current administration, like others before it, has no intention of improving education beyond what it is now.
Tella noted that budget allocations over the past 10 years had not reached 10 percent, while the actual release was well below the estimated value. âSo there has been a decline in the quality in terms of staff and equipment, which has resulted in poor quality graduates at all levels, even in the last year. “
He stressed the need for the government to recognize the importance of education in development, while providing adequate and sustainable funding.
To move the sector forward, Tella advocated convening an education summit with terms of reference that should include the types of reforms needed and sources of funding beyond government.
For his part, Professor Adamu Tanko, University of Bayero, Kano (BUK) noted that the sector has not achieved much over the past year. According to him, the government has reached a very low level.
He said: âIf we look at the calendar, many states have struggled to plan appropriately. The school system was unable to take off on time following the closure recorded in 2020. Even when the system took off, schools were affected by the COVID-19 protocol. The facilities available could not allow good compliance. At the top level, staff union agitations could not be resolved and no clear understanding of what could or could not happen. There was also the safety issue that school children were always afraid of. No parent had complete confidence in the safe school arrangements.
But Dr Akeem Jacobs of Gateway Polytechnic, Saapade, Ogun State, said the industry has actually grown in terms of quantity, which he listed to include the number of schools available, students in schools and the materials offered, but still far in terms of quality.
According to him, the quality of education has not kept pace with the needs of the time as a country.
The President of the National Association of Parents and Teachers of Nigeria (NPAN), Alhaji Haruna Danjuma, said the country was making real progress, especially in producing professionals in all fields, but progress was very slow however.
Danjuma said it was worrying that many qualified admission applicants could not be admitted due to space constraints, especially in public schools, while the number of out-of-school children is still high, in particularly in the north where insecurity pushes many children away from schools.
For Professor Emeritus Michael Omolewa, the sector has benefited from the COVID-19 pandemic during the year. According to him, learning before the COVID-19 epidemic was conceived as the possibility of a classroom, with a teacher standing and students seated, listening to the teacher.
However, the history professor said the new arrangement, which makes learning possible using technology, was popularized by the intervention of COVID-19.
âConferences, workshops, meetings and negotiations now take place online; learning has become less stressful, quieter and more accessible to all. Of course, there were frustrations with the cost of data and equipment. The past year has seen the continued adoption of ânew normal ways of learning and teachingâ.
In addition, the former head of UNESCO said that the private sector has also contributed to the development of the sector, as more private universities were accredited during the year under review.
He said, âWe now have more private universities that have exceeded the number of federal and state universities. These private institutions have continued to invest resources in the training and development of human capital. Guided by existing regulations and led by regulatory bodies, private educational institutions have been an important component of education providers in the country. It is now important that they benefit from the school tax fund to which the parents of these students contribute.