Stakeholders in the education sector have faulted the education budget in the 2023 national budget, saying that it falls short of the recommendation of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).
They made this known in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja.
They argued that without adequate investment in education, other sectors would also suffer.
NAN reports that UNESCO recommends that developing countries should dedicate 15 to 20 per cent of their annual budget to public education.
NAN also reports that in 2021, Heads of State and Government and Ministers of Education from more than 40 countries adopted the Paris Declaration, a global appeal initiated by UNESCO and France to increase investment in education in the aftermath of the COVID-19 crisis.
The Chairman, Private School Owners Association, Prof. Gregory Ibe, told NAN that there was a considerable increase in the 2023 budget for education compared to 2022 budget, adding that more funding was required in the education sector to make the impact required.
” It appears we’re playing deaf ear to the major thing that can save Nigerian education system. Education budget takes N470 billion out of the total budget for the 2023 fiscal year which is still on the low side.
‘ There’s no amount of money you will put into the university system, polytechnic higher education, secondary school or basic school that will make the impact that is required.
” What I’m saying is that if you want to develop a nation and you fail to develop the children of that nation, then forget it. You are not getting it right.
” There’s no amount of property you sell that can be equated to you investing in the education of your children.
“So the first thing that the president ought to do is to privatise institutions of high learning the same way that they brought it to NNPC as they fuse private individuals in there,” he said.
Ibe, who is also the Chancellor, Gregory University, Uturu, Abia, said that for education to get its rightful place, 40 per cent of all education institutions must have public/private partnership.
” I’ve been preaching on this matter that in order to stop all these strikes actions, sell 40 per cent of all institutions to private individuals.
” So that the school now will become private/government ownership by selling 60 per cent to private individual and government should hold 40 per cent.
” If this is done, there will be change and there will be quality. There will be sanity in the system and salaries will be paid,” he said.
The chancellor advised the federal government to provide financial aid to Nigerian youths so that they could have tertiary education by revamping the federal scholarship board.
He suggested N2 million as scholarship to students on annual basis to be given to Nigerian youths payable while spreading it through a number of year.
He said this would have impact on the Nigerian youths especially those in the northern region whose parents could not afford to pay their school fees as a result of poverty.
” This money is given will be payable through revolving money. 60 per cent of northern Nigerian youth are not able to go to school because their parents cannot afford the fee.
”Even with the free education, they are not encouraged to enjoy it. They cannot even enjoy the free education so they cannot even also pay for school fees.
”So, with this revolving money and financial aid plan, 60 per cent of the Northern Youth will go to school when all of us have opportunity of receiving education and this will translate to the development of the country,” he said.
Also, a Political Analyst, Mr Rotimi Lawrence said that going by UNESCO recommendation, this is figure was far from the ideal of global standards.
Lawrence decried the negative downwards effects of the low budgetary allocation to the education sector by the federal government.
He, therefore, called for a better funding especially for government owned universities so as to avert the seemingly endless strike actions by academic unions.
” Looking at the population of young people with zeal and energy bubbling with visions, the government must have a marshall plan in tackling youth restiveness through a deliberate policy on education particularly vocational training.
” We are also in a global village and there is a paradigm shift from natural resources to human capital. Therefore, government must increase spending on human capital to fight literacy, out-of-school children syndrome, girl-child education and early child marriage,” he said.
Meanwhile, Mr Jacobs Ogundele, an Auditor commended the federal government for increasing the education saying that it was a right step in the right direction.
Ogundele, who emphasised that the increase will positively impact on the sector, called for more increase in subsequent fiscal year.
”I think the national assembly are still going through it so it is still an appropriation bill but not yet a budget .
”However, it is a slide increment from that of 2022 that is till running. The university will enjoy better part of it while polytechnic and colleges of education will also have there shares.
”Unity schools and other recurrent activities will also enjoy the remaining. So, if government can actually release the said amount of N2.05 trillion, I think the sector will do more in the 2023 fiscal year,” he said.
NAN reports that education budget in the 2021 national budget stood at 5.6 per cent.
Compared to the 50 per cent that was promised, this shows that the 5.6 per cent budget in 2021 was however equivalent to 2.8 per cent.
Similarly, in the 2022 national budget, education budget stood at 5.39 per cent of the national budget which is N923.79 billion out of the total budget of N17.13 trillion.
However, for the 2023 budget, N2.05 trillion which is 10 per cent of the entire budget of N20.51 trillion was for education sector, paltry N470 billion is earmarked for tertiary education revitalisation and salary enhancement.
Also N1.23 trillion is the provision for Federal Ministry of Education and its agencies for recurrent and capital expenditure with the other amount voted for UBEC and TETFUND. (NAN)