Thursday, 28th September 2023

Education: Stakeholders seek more funds, infrastructure for sector in 2023

By Iyabo Lawal
02 February 2023   |   4:10 am
With the dawn of a new year, experts in the education sector have appealed to leaders and elected officials to ensure the survival of public institutions by allocating more funds to the sector.

ASUU President, Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke

With the dawn of a new year, experts in the education sector have appealed to leaders and elected officials to ensure the survival of public institutions by allocating more funds to the sector.

Despite the Federal Government’s commitment to provide compulsory basic education to teeming Nigerian children, economic and social factors, coupled with security issues, have reduced its ability to offer all young people the same quality of learning.

In the last three years, the Federal Government has spent just 1.4 per cent of its gross domestic product on education, which is below the four to six per cent recommended in United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation’s (UNESCO’s) Education 2030 Framework for Action for the achievement of inclusive, equitable quality education and lifelong learning for all.

Poor households make up 80 per cent of the population in the north, where families struggle to pay for schooling, with only about half of the children living in the region attending primary school. In addition to economic barriers and socio-cultural norms that discourage attending formal schools, parents have a further threat to their children’s education, which is insecurity.

Repeated attacks on schools and universities, as well as on teachers and students have undermined the entire education system. It is estimated that more than 1,400 schools were destroyed, damaged or looted primarily in the northeast and more than 600,000 children have lost access to education.

Nearly 300 school girls from a boarding school in Zamfara State were kidnapped last year, though later released unharmed, the event threw into sharp focus the need to guarantee the security of school children and their teachers, and prevent destruction of infrastructure, so that parents will feel safe to send their wards to school.

The tertiary education subsector suffered unprecedented setback last year, as a result of prolonged strike by the various staff unions in the institutions.

Stakeholders lamented that the Federal Government had not paid serious attention to education over the years and pleaded for more resources in the new year.

In 2022, out of the N16.39 trillion budget, education got N705.27 billion. The recurrent budget, comprising funds for salaries, training of employees and running of offices, was N593, 47 billion and funds for infrastructural development in the sector, known as the capital budget, took N111. 80 billion. The percentage allocation for the sector was 4.3 per cent of total budget.


For the 2023 appropriation, total allocation for the sector is N923, 787,614,465. Personnel cost will gulp N662, 732,758,942; overhead takes N38, 842,766,015, while N222, 212,089,508 goes for capital projects.

This notwithstanding, the challenges confronting the sector have remained a source of concern among stakeholders, who have stressed the need for government to be proactive in measures towards fixing the sector.

National President, Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Prof Emmanuel Osodeke, said the union expects the government to resolve all outstanding issues with ASUU to have a strike-free year and restore normalcy to the university calendar.

“Specifically, we expect government to settle all outstanding salaries, resolve issues of Integrated Payroll and Personnel information System (IPPIS) and University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS). We also expect that government will sign the agreement reached with the union, which takes care of funding, autonomy and infrastructural development,” he said.

He said a serious country desirous of development should focus on education. He wondered why government would allow public universities to be shut for eight months, even after disruptions to teaching and learning occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic.

He said: “Successive governments have abandoned education and started pursuing things that cannot lead to national growth, that is why we are where we are today. We are spending too much on education pilgrimage, people are going outside the country to study, using the money we should have used in developing the country to pay fees abroad.”

He urged government at all levels, including local, state and federal, to make funding of the sector a priority. At least, up to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation’s (UNESCO) recommended budget allocation of at least 25 per cent, and if they cannot meet that, should increase to 20 or 15 per cent.

“Let local government officials, who superintend over primary education, tour primary schools, while states should focus on secondary and state-owned tertiary institutions. States with four to five institutions should go back to the drawing board, let them merge the schools and reduce to one university per state, for those operating multiple campuses, let them turn those campuses to secondary schools and fund them properly so that they can produce graduates that can compete anywhere in the world.

“At the federal level, government should focus on tertiary education and fund it adequately to discourage youths from going abroad. Finally, there should be discipline. All agencies of government should be scrutinised to curb corruption, indiscipline and excessive spending.

National President, Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP), Anderson Ezeibe, said the union expects the government to honour its agreement with the association to have a stable academic calendar.

He said: “We will like to see significant improvement in terms of funding, we don’t want to see government renege on agreements willingly signed with the union because anytime government violates this agreement, the result is strike and that is disruptive.

“We want government to be more responsible and responsive in terms of fulfilling agreements it willingly entered into. Government should try to give the right priority to education,” Ezeibe added.

National leader of Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), Kazim Adediran, described the challenges in the sector as pathetic.

Adediran described Nigerian leaders as insensitive, saying if they educate their wards in the country, they would have no choice but to invest more in the sector.

He added that for the country to get the foundation right, it must get the best brains in the profession by developing centres of excellence, innovation hubs and education communities.

Citing the United Kingdom’s recent invitation to Nigerian teachers, Adediran appealed to the Federal Government to make teaching attractive by paying teachers well and revamp teacher training.

These, he said, will halt brain drain in the sector and make teachers to stay back in the country instead of going abroad.

He said: “If teachers are adequately compensated and guaranteed the best quality of life that will encompass comfortable housing, uninterrupted power supply, resident support and a maximum of 30 minutes travel time to and from work, as well as best educational resources with teaching capabilities, they would be enticed to resign from their stressful jobs with poor-work balance and relocate to these hubs, centres and education communities.

“Nigeria can actually revert to the days when Africans came to study in our highly esteemed institutions. The huge capital flight from the exodus of Nigerians studying abroad and government’s failure to invest more in the sector can be likened to a terminal disease that needs to be reversed urgently,” Adediran added.

A public analyst, Tomilola Oloruntoba, stressed the need for government to make education its priority and properly fund it.

Besides, Oloruntoba said emphasis should be placed on skills acquisition and vocational education that would make youths employers of labour rather than job seekers.

“Efforts should be made towards provision of laboratory equipment for skills acquisition in schools. Once this is done, many people will not be running after white-collar jobs again.”


A Professor of History at the University of Lagos (UNILAG), Ayodeji Olukoju, said the most important thing for government to do this year is to assess the sector, know what are missing and move to fill the gaps.

He said: “I think we need to have a database that should be upgraded consistently. We cannot go anywhere without knowing where we are, and should do so at the level of local government. We need to have a reliable database on the state of education in Nigeria.

“In doing this, we are going to identify gaps because education is not just for its own sake; it is to procure knowledge, which in itself is not power, it is when you apply it that it becomes power, therefore, we never can move forward until we are aware of where we are and what we should have done that we did not do. It is when we identify the gaps that we can decide on what to do, short, medium and long term.

“I think the greatest challenge we have is that we have a huge number of people who are out of school already, because in the whole of northwest and northeast, too many of them are out-of-school, how do we get them back to school? Part of that challenge, focusing on northwest and northeast, is security. How do we solve the problem? What I’m saying is let’s identify gaps and find local solutions. What works for southwest may not work for north central, let us find out from people in the different regions their peculiar challenges because in some places, they don’t have enough teachers, while in others, they have teachers but are not competent. In some places, there are no laboratories at all and in many public universities, there are no teaching facilities. The first thing to do is to identify the problems and proffer solutions,” Olukoju added.

A Professor of education at Ekiti State University, Adesina Olagbaju, said government should address issues with ASUU and other staff unions in the nation’s tertiary institutions to end issues of strike.

With adequate funding of sector, Olagbaju said the institutions would enjoy academic stability, while teaching and learning will be seamless.

He also stressed the need to adequately motivate teachers to attract the best brains to the profession.

“When you increase funding to the sector and teachers are not motivated, you cannot get the best of results, let teachers feel that they are part of the system and appreciate what they are doing, so that they can put in their best,” Olagbaju added.