Right from the inception of the world, education has played a major role in the development and liberation of the human race, like a popular quote by Nelson Mandela, which says that “education is the most powerful weapon, which you can use to change the world”.
The word “EDUCATION” which is derived from a Latin word “EDUCATIO”, which means breeding, bringing up or rearing, according to the Oxford advance learner dictionary, is defined as a body of knowledge acquired while being educated, which is the process of receiving or giving systemic, intellectual, moral or social instructions, typically at home.
Education in Nigeria hasn’t been part of the front running sector in the country as it is supposed to be. The input by the Nigerian government generally into the education sector is unacceptable and seems unreasonable. This has been the major reason behind the incessant strike action embarked upon by several associations in the education sector, leading to the high rate at which Nigerians seek tertiary education outside the country. Back in the days, when government schools at all educational levels were far better than the so called private schools, when Nigeria tertiary institution ranked among the top 100 universities in the world, when Nigerians were eager and happy, to take their wards to government schools rather than now that they only take their wards to government schools basically because of their financial constraint. Nowadays, it is hard to differentiate between our so-called public primary and secondary schools classrooms from a poultry farm and there laboratories from a local mechanic’s workshop. It is high time we set things right and look forward for a better Nigeria.
PROBLEM AND THE PROFFERED SOLUTION
If there was one thing I could change to improve education in Nigeria, that would be the poor funding of the education sector.
It has to be clearly stated that there would be no development or improvement in the education sector of any nation where education is poorly funded. It will interest you to know that education in Nigeria is being poorly funded and probably commercialized. In comparison, Ghana (a fellow west African country), which Nigeria has much to learn from in terms of investing in education, devoted 31% of her budgetary allocation on education, while Nigeria devotes 8% of her budgetary allocation on education, which is far lower than the 26% of budgetary allocation benchmark recommended by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization UNESCO. As a matter of fact, Nigeria has the lowest percentage of her budgetary allocation invested on education (8%), compared with fellow African nations with smaller Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per person, which are as follows: Ghana (31%); Kenya (23%); Côte d’Ivoire (20%); Tunisia (17%); Uganda (27%); Burkina Faso (16.8%); and Morocco (17.7%). (Source: Tell 22/8/13, Guardian 24/3/13)
The result of this is that Nigerians send their wards to school within and outside Africa for a better education. For instance, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), by last year academic year estimated that NGN 81 billion left the country’s economy as tuition fees for Nigerian students schooling in tertiary institution outside the country. (Source: Tell 12/7/13)
It is no surprise that the level of social menace among youths in Nigeria has been on a high rate, considering the fact that education is being taken for granted in Nigeria due to its poor funding, leading to children being interested in learning a trade rather than going to school, interested in schooling overseas rather than schooling in their father’s land, interested in joining bad gangs rather than being of good behavior.
I refuse to disagree that education is the only way out and proper funding of education in Nigeria is the only solution, just like a quote from Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre which says that “Prejudices, it is well known, are most difficult to eradicate from the heart whose soil has never been loosened or fertilised by education: they grow there, firm as weeds among stones.”
Nigeria does not need a strong personality in the education sector, but it needs a strong institution. All hands must be on deck for our dear nation to regain its lost glory.
BENEFITS OF THE PROPER FUNDING OF THE EDUCATION SECTOR
Proper funding of the education sector in Nigeria would achieve the following benefits:
• There would be adequate facilities for proper teaching.
• There would be adequate facilities for learning and research.
• There would be adequate hotel facilities where necessary.
• More commitment of educational workers to work.
• Increased access to educational opportunities, i.e. the number of students will greatly increase, relative to an increase in educational workers which will enhance proper teaching in schools at all levels (primary, secondary and tertiary institution).
• Reduction in the brain drain endemic in the education sector.
• Increase in the number or tertiary institution workers on a full time basis, which will in turn reduce the workload on the present ones and allow each and individual ones to carry out their academic and research work conveniently.
• Stoppage of strike action embarked upon by educational workers.
• Time to time seminars for educational workers, helping in their training and retraining.
• Renovation of old, dilapidating classrooms, and construction of new classroom blocks. In addition, there would be construction of new common rooms (in primary and secondary schools) and offices in tertiary institution. Provision of furniture is not excluded.
• Renovation of old laboratories & libraries, and construction of modern ones to meet up with the international standard of practical research and reading at all levels of education and making sure that the use of stale/crude laboratory apparatus & instruments are reduced to its nearest minimum.
• Construction of computer rooms, e-libraries and other ICT centers to meet up with the requirements of the present technological age.
• Construction of toilets where necessary.
• There would be provision of scholarship to brilliant indigent students to further pursue academic programs locally and overseas. This will further challenge other students to study hard, i.e. brilliant students that are financially handicapped will have access to free and quality education.
• There would be provision of functional free transport services for students, particularly for those in the primary and secondary schools.
On a final note, permit me to use a phrase from the Holy Book which says that ‘seek the kingdom of God and all other things will be given to you’. Once there is proper funding of the education sector, all other problems relating with education in Nigeria will be solved relatively.
Finally, as we all know, “education for all is the responsibility of all”. As government play their own part by taking radical measures that will bring sound and quality education for all and sundry, parents and guardians are therefore expected to provide uniforms, sandals, school bags, and other schooling materials for their wards in primary and secondary schools. Also parents and guardians of students in tertiary institutions are expected to make provisions for textbooks and other necessary expenses.
I therefore crave the indulgence of the Nigerian government to properly fund the education sector. Because education is the hope of children, and we children are the future of tomorrow & a better Nigeria.
God bless Nigeria.