Education has been proven to continually play vital role in our lives; the UN explains that obtaining a quality education underpins a range of fundamental development drivers but how does one in a country like Nigeria have access to quality education, understand what Inclusive Education is about and in turn provide these for others? It beats me that in a country where a senator goes home with jumbo salary estimated at 19,982,600.00 a year in salary, while House of Representatives members earn 15,259,440.00 but that’s not all because for lawmakers. The big pays come in form of generous allowances which when put together displays that each lawmaker cost taxpayers 196,192,800.00 to maintain as of 2017. This is a country that is running on a budget of N8.83 trillion with a quarter of the sum (N2.14 trillion) for debt servicing.
The Education ministry gets only 7.02% of 2019 budget even when the global organization recommended 26 percent budgetary benchmark to enable nations adequately cater for rising education demands. In a recent gathering of stakeholders in Education sector at Enugu, Nigeria. The Commissioner of Education in the state. Professor Uchenna Eze presented his plans for the sector but one thing that stood out in his presentation is the idea that the ministry will be guided by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG 4) which is centered on Provision of Quality and Inclusive Education but how would that he achieve that in a state that allocated 5.1 % to education?
Mr. Egbo Daniel, a Data scientist believes that Professor Eze would have stated his modus operandi, timeline of this project “Education Overhaul”, collaborative strategy and status of government owned institution in the state than vague statements.
Let’s recall that as of 2018
- More than half of children and adolescents worldwide are not meeting minimum proficiency standards in reading and mathematics.
- The disparities in education along the lines of gender, urban-rural location and other dimensions still run deep
- The participation rate in early childhood and primary education was 70 per cent in 2016, up from 63 per cent in 2010. The lowest rates are found in sub-Saharan Africa (41 per cent) and Northern Africa and Western Asia (52 per cent)
Consequently, I asked cross section of Enugu residents of how we would re-strategize Nigeria’s educational system to be responsive?
Mr. Egbo believes that by introducing personal development training for teachers and instructors to build their capacity would inculcate science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) approach in students’ attitude to life thereby guarantying self reliant. It has also been advocated that if Africa must meet the global targets of SDGs then the government, policy makers and educationists must stop politicizing education matters and put an end to mortgaging our children’s future.
Donald Abidemi Odeleye Ph.D clarifies that since education is one of the fundamental factors of development as it has the potential of enriching people’s understanding of themselves and the world, it would be of immense benefit to reposition the system because it has the capacity to improve the quality of human life and lead to broad social gratification for individuals and society. Education has the potential to raise people’s productivity and creativity and promotes entrepreneurship and technological advances. In addition, it plays a very crucial role in securing economic and social progress and improving income distribution. It is evident that no nation or community can progress beyond the level of her human capital development.
Secondly, there is need to remodel the educational curriculum to meet global standards and ensure teachers and instructors are updated with the requisite skills and tools to do their job effectively. Basic education should not be neglected. It is the bedrock of a developing society. Adequate resources should be channeled to it by both government and other stakeholders to ensure every child gets quality basic education.
Mr. Genius Walker argues that 7.2% of the national budget cannot help cater for the needs of Nigeria’s educational system because the country doesn’t care and wouldn’t even want to pretend about it. How true is this? Mr. Egbo reacts “My problem is not about how much that has been allocated to the education ministry; my problem is how they manage the funds to ensure some issues are addressed by the ministry”. Government at all levels should be thinking continuity at all times, provide adequate funding and monitor its usage, retraining and rewarding exceptional educationists as these are few steps that we can adapt in building a reading and leading nation.
Mr. Ujam Emmanuel is of the opinion that there’s no “global standards” to model Nigeria’s education system after. He further queries the kind of nation that grows without technology and sciences? Finally, we need to understand that achieving inclusive and quality education for all reaffirms the belief that education is one of the most powerful and proven vehicles for sustainable development. Therefore, for that to happen we all need to see start viewing education as a collaborative venture, and set our priorities right which is also about having the right values. We can’t keep doing the same thing all the time while expecting a different result.