By Odimegwu Onwumere
Many Nigerians have unnerved views that the education industry is supposed to be one of the biggest industries in the country. If the successive governments have harnessed the industry very well, it stands to earn the country about $300b per annum.
Those in this line of scrutiny are of the outlook that not even the National Seminar in 1973, which led to the formulation of National Policy on Education in 1977, revised in 1981, and the introduction of the universal primary education (UPE) in 1976, have helped the country’s education sufficiently.
Gasping for ways to improve on the country’s education, the Universal Basic Education (UBE) was later launched formally by then President Olusegun Obasanjo in Nigeria on 30th September, 1999. The UBE was aimed at making education reachable and making all citizens literate by the year 2010. But Nigerians are today in 2016!
On March 14 2016, in Abuja, while making his address at the 2016 Commonwealth Day Celebration, the Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu assured Nigerians that the government was committed to achieving the 16 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); an expansion of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), agreed by governments in 2001, which came to an end in 2015.
Without doubt, many richest Nigerians have queued on the weakness of the following governments to establish schools as part of their own measures to foster the needed qualitative education that Nigeria seeks. And they are tapping from this no matter the “Made-in-China” education they render to their patronizers. China is known for low quality products! The big chasm in the Nigeria’s education system, the citizens are looking elsewhere to attain sound education.
Spending heavily to study abroad
The pillars of Nigeria were dazed when the Chairman Senate Committee on Tertiary Institution and Tertiary Education Trust Fund, TETFund, Senator Binta Masi on February 9 2016, in Abuja, during the official Commissioning of Federal University of Lafia, FUL, to the Nigeria Research and Education Network, NgREN, said that Nigerians spend $2bn on school fees abroad.
Many Nigerians focused their attention on the huge sum of money mentioned and flummoxed. The Senator was horror-struck, adding that it was unnecessary that Nigerians even travel to other African countries to get educated.
Her position was that the country was at the peak of getting the research and education network right. Conversely, some Nigerians contradicted the views of the Senator and said that it’s a pity that Nigerians are travelliing out in droves to get qualitative education elsewhere. But they do not have other option due to the fact that majority of the public schools in the country – from kindergarten to tertiary level – do not even have working hostels, which they enjoy in schools across the shores of the country.
Reason for the exodus abroad
Checks have revealed that no matter the measures that the government is putting in place to stop the trend of exodus of Nigerians to study abroad, it is a tall dream to stop them because Nigerians, who have schooled overseas, did not experience unremitting strikes that preceptors and their unions embark on in Nigeria, which congealed many academic sessions in the recent past.
Specialists have said that there are inadequate teacher educations, betrayed quality assurance in the area of class dimension, minute number of teachers and tutorial objects, laughable governance of schools, zero execution of Schools Management Committees (SMCs), insufficient budgetary for education, low incentives for teachers, and so on.
Budget and Grades watered down
In May 2013, Sarki Mallam-Madori, a public affairs analyst argued in inference, saying, “From 1997 and 2000 statistics show that federal government expenditure on education was below 10% of overall expenditure. It noticed that, the national expenditure on education cannot be computed because various states expenditure on education cannot be determined, in relation to the UNESCO recommendation of 26% of national budgets.”
In an appearance in July 2014, the Rector, Olawoyin Awosika School of Innovative Studies, Prof Abiola Awosika showed remorse that the education in the country is going down by the day, of which students’ grades are lowered in order to see if they could measure up with the trend, whereas it should not have been so.
She pointed out that the flight of solid curricula in the universities and colleges of education that were supposed to build up people is a big blow. Prof Awosika said, “We lowered the Joint Administration and Matriculation Board (JAMB) scores again this year; 180 for universities and 130 for colleges of education and polytechnics.”
Education killed by politicians
A Nigerian who wouldn’t like the name in print said that the schools in the country have been wrecked by apparent corrupt leaders. And this has led to the malfunctioning of other government agencies.
There are other factors that those in this line of thought said are imminent why Nigerians will not stop from travelling to overseas for studies. They include paying for the handouts of lecturers to get more points in tests and exams of which any students that did not abide by the dictate risks being delayed to graduate by his or her lecturer.
Some Nigerians who could not afford the money to study abroad drop out of school. There are situations where lecturers and students are cultists, details have opined. And the apparent cultists threaten the welfare of others who are not members. Many Nigerians argued that if the Senator was frowning about Nigerians studying abroad, perhaps, due to the exorbitant money they pay to get admission in the schools abroad, the private schools in Nigeria are even worse.
Private schools couldn’t help
Nigerians said that the private schools in Nigeria, unchangingly, collect huge sum of money from Nigerians without showing same in academic impartation. Only “Made in China” education!
The worry is that due to the economic harshness that many homes are going through, the effort by parents to keep their children in schools is unwholesome. A school of thought said that it does not see the rationale in spending huge sums of money that amount to hundreds of thousands per a term for a toddler in the Nigerian private nursery or elementary schools, whereas he or she would be meeting in the same university with those that went to public schools and most times, the toddler is just empty in head.
U.S. Department of Education vs. Nigeria’s
There are insinuations that apart from the supposed mal-functional hostels that majority of the schools across the country run, the scientific laboratories in virtually all the schools are like artifacts in the museum.
The blame has been heaped on the successive governments in the country, because statistics have shown that the workforce in Nigeria is not in the dearth. Lecturers from Nigeria excel in other worlds where they are exposed to the necessary amenities that include power, technology, conducive environment and sundry.
But Buhari, represented by the Deputy Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC), Professor Akaneren Essien, while delivering a message at the 2014/2015, and 29th convocation ceremony of the University of Calabar (UNICAL), held at the school’s Abraham Odia Stadium, swaggered that N500 billion was allocated to the education sector in the 2016 federal budget. He described this as the highest so far allocated to the sector in the country.
Buhari said: “The 2016 budgetary provision of N500 billion for the education sector is the highest so far, and it is our desire to apply every kobo in this budget to deal with various need of our universities to ensure that they become more globally competitive.”
On-the-contrary, the USA federal government allocated approximately $154 billion on education in fiscal year 2015. Going by the programmes administered by the U.S. Department of Education, which appear in two separate parts in the USA budget, critics have said the statements made by Buhari at the occasion were mere politics and charade compared to what obtains in the USA budget for Department of Education.
Nigerians are of the judgment that the schools in the country would have been the best in the world if the country had used its resources meant for the education sector judiciously and ban political-leaders from sending their wards to school abroad.
The Executive Secretary, Kogi State Universal Basic Education (SUBEB), Mallam Nuhu Ahmed was of a view that the Change mantra of Major General Muhammadu Buhari administration will amount to an exercise in futility if the education sector is not bettered.
At five-day training on December 14 2015, for quality assurance officers organised by the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) and the state SUBEB with the theme “Strengthening the Capacity of Quality Assurance officers for Improved Quality Delivery” in Lokoja, Ahmed said, “Nigeria cannot develop without quality education.”
Ahmed squabbled, saying that the country will be measured by the qualitative education it gets; and how quality the country’s basic education is will form the bedrock of the educational harvest of the country.
He added, “The dream of a change in Nigeria will be a mirage if there are no quality teachers in the schools. The need for qualitative basic education delivery must be intensified by the government because without quality teachers there cannot be quality product amongst the students.”
Odimegwu Onwumere is a Writer and Consultant; he writes from Rivers State. (firstname.lastname@example.org). Tel: +2348057778358.