The Guardian
Email YouTube Facebook Instagram Twitter

Systematic inequality in Nigerian education sector

Related

Education Minister, Malam Adamu Adamu

The word systematic is defined as having, showing, or involving a system, method, or plan. Also, inequality is defined as difference in size, degree, circumstances, etc.; lack of equality. Social inequality means imbalance, inequity, variation, bias, prejudice, discrimination, unfairness, unfair treatment. The opposite of inequality is equality, uniformity etc. Education on the other hand is the process of receiving or giving systematic instruction, especially at a school or university. Thus, Article 17(1) of the African (Banjul) Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights recognised and enshrined mandatory equal right of citizens to education as follows: “Every individual shall have the right to education.”

The Education sector is one of the sectors that have suffered a prolonged budget inequality in the annual budget of Nigeria. For example, the review of the 2017 Federal Appropriation Bill and Estimate prepared by the Citizens Wealth Platform (CWP) shows that the allocations detailing the priorities of government in the recurrent (personnel and overheads) and capital votes established that the total allocation accruing to the Federal Ministry of Education is ₦448,443,102,614 which represents 6.14 per cent of the total annual budget for 2017. The above figure and percentage as presented by the Citizens Wealth Platform shows that the education sector occupies the sixth position in the budget priority of the Nigerian THE word systematic is defined as having, showing, or involving a system, method, or plan. Also, inequality is defined as difference in size, degree, circumstances, etc.; lack of equality. Social inequality means imbalance, inequity, variation, bias, prejudice, discrimination, unfairness, unfair treatment. The opposite of inequality is equality, uniformity etc. Education on the other hand is the process of receiving or giving systematic instruction, especially at a school or university. Thus, Article 17(1) of the African (Banjul) Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights recognised and enshrined mandatory equal right of citizens to education as follows: “Every individual shall have the right to education.”

The Education sector is one of the sectors that have suffered a prolonged budget inequality in the annual budget of Nigeria. For example, the review of the 2017 Federal Appropriation Bill and Estimate prepared by the Citizens Wealth Platform (CWP) shows that the allocations detailing the priorities of government in the recurrent (personnel and overheads) and capital votes established that the total allocation accruing to the Federal Ministry of Education is ₦448,443,102,614 which represents 6.14 per cent of the total annual budget for 2017. The above figure and percentage as presented by the Citizens Wealth Platform shows that the education sector occupies the sixth position in the budget priority of the Nigerian government.

From the foregoing, the 6.14 per cent is clear evidence that the education sector lags behind the international standard of 26 per cent as prescribed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). The budget appropriation which is below the 26 per cent prescribed by UNESCO can be said to be responsible for Nigerian education system which can be said to have fallen below the international standard in recent times compared to the products of some foreign or other international schools. The level of decay experienced by the education sector in Nigeria can trace its foundation to the budget inequality as exemplified above.

However, the education sector is no doubt an instrument for national development and an asset to any nation. It is also a formidable tool for socio-economic, political and cultural development of the human society. Having been considered as one of the main pillars of the human society, human beings are able to transmit, develop and improve knowledge, skills and abilities. Education generally makes man, by developing skills and competencies, imparting knowledge and learning from the school and colleges which carry individuals well into their personal and professional lives, including in their later years. Education is the surest route to development in any society, country or organisation. In fact, the importance of education cannot be overemphasized, without education various socioeconomic activities in the societies will remain stagnant and the human society will continue to wallow in ignorance. Despite this fact, Nigeria is still far from providing this basic necessity to the greater proportion of her people as a result of poor budgeting system. This situation is considered unacceptable more so, if one considers that education has been classified as a major fundamental human rights in contemporary society. Again, in the present globalized society in which every nation is connected to the other, education is perhaps the only instrument for people to adequately cope with the new trend.

The education system in Nigeria does not reflect the modern trend in the priority of the modern society more so where the minimum standard of the percentage in the budgeting system as prescribed by UNESCO has not been complied with even in the 2017 annual budget of Nigeria. Thus, it is a common knowledge in Nigeria today that between an indigenous graduate in Nigeria and a foreign graduate, the latter is preferred to the former during employment or job interview by both multinational and Nigerian employers. This is as a result of constant and incessant decay and relegation of Nigerian education system through budget inequality.

Further, the high rate of inequality in the education system is caused by the increasing number of private schools which are owned by most of the economic stakeholders, decision makers and policy formulators in Nigeria. Thus to boost the patronage of their private and individually owned schools and institutions, much attention is not given to the development of the education sector and particularly public schools. Rather than creating the atmosphere of adequate budgeting, utilization, appropriation and implementation of the fund allocated to the education sector, large proportion of it is embezzled by the so called actors and used to establish and improve their private schools, whereas some will send their wards overseas to enable them access quality education, the downtrodden and vulnerable group will suffer the brunt of the budget cum system inequality in the education sector.

Therefore, there is an urgent need for Nigerian leaders, policy formulators and makers, lawmakers and every other stakeholder in Nigeria to come up with quality budgeting system as it affects the education sector to attain at least the minimum 26 per cent of the total annual budget value to enable it boost the quality of education in Nigeria.

From the foregoing, the 6.14 per cent is clear evidence that the education sector lags behind the international standard of 26 per cent as prescribed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). The budget appropriation which is below the 26 per cent prescribed by UNESCO can be said to be responsible for Nigerian education system which can be said to have fallen below the international standard in recent times compared to the products of some foreign or other international schools. The level of decay experienced by the education sector in Nigeria can trace its foundation to the budget inequality as exemplified above.

However, the education sector is no doubt an instrument for national development and an asset to any nation. It is also a formidable tool for socio-economic, political and cultural development of the human society. Having been considered as one of the main pillars of the human society, human beings are able to transmit, develop and improve knowledge, skills and abilities. Education generally makes man, by developing skills and competencies, imparting knowledge and learning from the school and colleges which carry individuals well into their personal and professional lives, including in their later years. Education is the surest route to development in any society, country or organisation. In fact, the importance of education cannot be overemphasized, without education various socioeconomic activities in the societies will remain stagnant and the human society will continue to wallow in ignorance. Despite this fact, Nigeria is still far from providing this basic necessity to the greater proportion of her people as a result of poor budgeting system. This situation is considered unacceptable more so, if one considers that education has been classified as a major fundamental human rights in contemporary society. Again, in the present globalized society in which every nation is connected to the other, education is perhaps the only instrument for people to adequately cope with the new trend.

The education system in Nigeria does not reflect the modern trend in the priority of the modern society more so where the minimum standard of the percentage in the budgeting system as prescribed by UNESCO has not been complied with even in the 2017 annual budget of Nigeria. Thus, it is a common knowledge in Nigeria today that between an indigenous graduate in Nigeria and a foreign graduate, the latter is preferred to the former during employment or job interview by both multinational and Nigerian employers. This is as a result of constant and incessant decay and relegation of Nigerian education system through budget inequality.

Further, the high rate of inequality in the education system is caused by the increasing number of private schools which are owned by most of the economic stakeholders, decision makers and policy formulators in Nigeria. Thus to boost the patronage of their private and individually owned schools and institutions, much attention is not given to the development of the education sector and particularly public schools. Rather than creating the atmosphere of adequate budgeting, utilization, appropriation and implementation of the fund allocated to the education sector, large proportion of it is embezzled by the so called actors and used to establish and improve their private schools, whereas some will send their wards overseas to enable them access quality education, the downtrodden and vulnerable group will suffer the brunt of the budget cum system inequality in the education sector.

Therefore, there is an urgent need for Nigerian leaders, policy formulators and makers, lawmakers and every other stakeholder in Nigeria to come up with quality budgeting system as it affects the education sector to attain at least the minimum 26 per cent of the total annual budget value to enable it boost the quality of education in Nigeria.

Okere wrote from Centre for Social Justice, Abuja.



No Comments yet