There is no doubt that significant progress has been made in the education sector when one thinks of the expansion of the number of institutions at all levels of education in Nigeria.
For example, during independence in the 1960s, Nigeria had only five universities: University of Ibadan (UI), Oyo, established in 1948, University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN), Enugu-1960 , Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun- 1961, Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, Kaduna-1962 and University of Lagos, Lagos State-1962.
The number of universities has grown exponentially to 43 federal universities, 48 public universities and 78 private universities. In addition, polytechnics, colleges and other higher education institutions have continued to multiply almost daily while primary and secondary schools are not left out with many reforms also underway.
Despite the growth of institutions, stakeholders observed that the sector faces many challenges ranging from insufficient funding, a shortage of qualified teachers, poor teaching and learning infrastructure, -payment of teachers’ salaries, social unrest, sects, exam errors, corruption and maladministration and, in some cases, outright neglect of the sector at different levels of governance.
All of these, according to stakeholders, have a negative impact on the systems’ outputs and as such cannot support the production of the labor force needed to drive the country’s economy to a glorious end. .
At 61, one of the biggest challenges the country faces is the burden of the more than 10.1 million out-of-school children, according to statistics from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). This is in addition to the more than 78 million illiterate adults in the country.
However, Education Minister Malam Adamu Adamu revealed that the number of out-of-school children rose from 10.1 million in 2019 to 6.95 million in 2020, saying this was made possible thanks to the implementation of better delivery of educational services for all. (BESDA).
Adamu noted that the BESDA initiative in 17 states was responsible for the additional schooling of 1,053,422 children, saying his ministry was working closely with the National Association of School Owners and Owners of Nigeria to reduce the burden. number of out-of-school children.
He said the association had taken more than a million out-of-school children off the streets, with each private school sponsoring five students.
He said, “Under the BESDA initiative, the federal government secured a $ 611 million World Bank credit facility to help 17 states strengthen universal basic education (UBE).
“The facility will also address the first pillar of the Ministerial Strategic Plan (PSM) on out-of-school children. So far, we have launched BESDA in 10 states namely: Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Ebonyi, Kano, Oyo, Yobe, Niger and Zamfara states.
To date, we have recorded impressive enrollment figures in 17 states of the federation, where BESDA is implemented.
“However, I can tell you that thanks to the BESDA initiative, we have reduced the number of out-of-school children from 10.1 million since May 2020 to 6,946,328 million.”
Stakeholders were also unanimous that the billions of naira allocated to the education sector at different levels of government hardly ended up in classrooms, where it would have had a positive impact on students and students. students in terms of quality outcomes.
They believed, however, that the performance of the education sector could not be different from the performance of other sectors of the economy, insisting that the ‘giant of Africa’ still crawling at 61, the education wouldn’t necessarily do better either.
Nigerian Teachers Union (NUT) General Secretary Dr Mike Ene has categorically stated that Nigeria, at 61, is still crawling not only in the aspect of education, but in almost every aspect of life. According to him, the government employment policy considers that a worker retires at 60 and 65 years old. This means that a person in this age group is considered economically less productive and should therefore leave the service for the younger ones.
“So if we are to apply the same calculation to the development of Nigeria as a country in terms of education, it means we are a total failure,” he said.
He said it wasn’t as if nothing positive had happened in the industry from the early years of independence until the 1980s, as a growing number of schools and students at all levels, as many do not need to walk long distances but these things had not translated into the significant development expected of the sector.
He listed some of the main challenges facing the sector, including inadequate funding from government at all levels, poor exam practice with teachers and parents helping practice, poor staff well-being. , inconsistent policies, a poor teaching and learning environment, and a high level of insecurity, among others.
The poor state of education in Nigeria has recently been compounded by growing insecurity in the country. Continued attacks on schools and kidnappings for ransom have resulted in the closure of many schools in parts of the north of the country.
Plan International Nigeria, a non-governmental organization, has revealed that at least 1,409 students have been abducted from their schools in the country in the past year, 16 are believed to have died or murdered by gangs.
Plan International Interim Country Director Robert Komakech, who made it known, said that when primary and secondary schools across Nigeria reopened for a new academic session, many children were unable to return to school. their classes because of the “unacceptable level of insecurity and kidnappings”. students.”
He called on the federal government to take concrete action to end school kidnappings and make schools safe for all as Nigeria prepares to host the Fourth International Conference on Safe Schools Declaration this month .
The immediate past vice-chancellor of Bells University of Technology, Ota, Ogun State, Professor Isaac Adeyemi, noted that the lack of funding, uncoordinated management of the education sector, recent problems of Insecurity across the country and the COVID-19 pandemic have all contributed to the education sector’s current low score.
According to him, the management of the economy also has a crucial role to play and also has a ripple effect on the education sector.
He noted that the education sector has not performed very well as expected. There is no doubt that there are other conflicting issues such as the relentless industrial demands of the workers, with the government not playing the expected role mainly due to the state of the economy and the approach to governance. in a country where some, if not most, are in charge of affairs see themselves as “emperors”.
Speaking in the same way, the National President, All Nigeria Confederation of Principals of Secondary Schools (ANCOPSS), Mr. Anselm Isuagie, said there was nothing to celebrate regarding education in Nigeria .
He said Nigeria is not doing well as a country in the education aspect given its age, noting that the government has completely neglected the sector.
He said that as long as different levels of government continue to allocate less than 26 percent of their annual budgets to education, the sector will not deliver the desired results.
Former head of the West African Examining Board (WAEC) national office in Nigeria, Mr. Olu Adenipekun, however, said education in Nigeria had in fact progressed in the years after independence. in terms of the quantity it listed to include the number of schools available. , pupils in schools, subjects offered, etc., but is still far in terms of quality.
He said that many people were trained during the early independence period and until the 1980s and could take office and government jobs, as well as teaching and all the jobs required at that time. , but as the country and its people progressed through the stages of development, the education provided could no longer adequately meet the requirements to significantly advance the country.
According to him, the quality of education in Nigeria after 61 years of political independence has failed to meet the pace expected to meet the needs of the time as a country.
Likewise, the national president of the League of Muslim School Owners (LEAMSP), Mr. AbdulWaheed Obalakun, also believes that while the country is making progress in the field of education, it is still far from where it should. to be.
For him, the major problem facing the country, which manifests itself not only in the education sector but in all other sectors, lies in the implementation of policies.
Speaking in the same vein, the President of the National Association of Parents and Teachers of Nigeria (NPAN), Alhaji Haruna Danjuma, also said that the country is making real progress, especially in producing professionals in all fields, but that progress was very slow.
He said it was worrying that many qualified admission applicants could not be admitted due to space constraints, especially in public schools, and that the number of out-of-school children, including Almajiri, is still high, especially in the northern part. of the country where insecurity also keeps many children away from school.
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