2023: Appraisal Of Education Sector Performance

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The education industry in Nigeria like other sectors suffered a great setback, being an election year.

It was a year when the propaganda machinery of political gladiators fed Nigerians with concocted information about the Nigerian state.

It was a period Nigerians, especially students were fed distorted history about the country by propagandists engaged by politicians to deliberately distort facts for political gains. No thanks to the poor teaching of History in many schools

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The outgone year also marked a period some young Nigerians within and outside the learning environment abandoned education, and vocational training and opted for the get-rich barbaric choices like Yahoo Yahoo, ritual killings and drug deals.

These led to gruesome killing of their fellow students and loved ones for ill gotten wealth.

2023 marked a period immorality within the academic environment peaked as lecturers and parents were neck-deep in examination fraud.

Proprietors, invigilators and school officials encouraged willing parents to make special arrangements for their wards to excel in public examinations.
The year 2023 marked a period proprietors of public and private universities defied the Central Admission Policy (CAP) rules to circumvent admission processes put in place by the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB).

Also, in 2023 JAMB accused tertiary institutions of gross abuse of the age-long academic tradition of matriculation as formal ceremony for official admission of candidates admitted into courses and programmes.

The year marked a period the lingering issue of underfunding and poor allocation of funds to the sector persisted.

During the year,the education sector witnessed significant challenges, including a wave of brain drain, the struggles for better funding for the sector and improved welfare for teachers at all levels.

Tuition Hike

It was a year that parents and students in government-owned universities and other levels of tertiary institutions became agitated over excessive hikes in tuition fees announced by the management of universities.

In the wake of the hike, the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) vehemently condemned the increase in school fees by tertiary institutions across the country.

NANS declared that the government’s action was “insensitive” and “embarrassing”.

The association stated that there was no justification for an increase in school fees in tertiary institutions and Unity schools.

As the outrage continued, the Education Rights Campaign (ERC) condemned the 100 per cent fee increase by the management of the Olabisi Onabanjo University (OOU), Ago Iwoye, saying it was not only criminal, but also the height of insensitivity, inhumanity, and downright heartlessness by the state government and the university management.

The ERC unequivocally demanded total reversal without any condition, and called on students, parents and guardians, in equal measures to reject and resist this latest attack and attempts to turn public education into a commodity for merchandise!

“We maintain that quality education is the right of every citizen and must be funded with public finance by the government at all levels; not a product to be sold for profits!

Poor Funding

Inadequate funding of the universities is a known fact. Universities need to have new ways of generating revenue to meet financial obligations.

Reacting to the need to shore up funding, Prof Folasade Ogunsola, the Vice-Chancellor of the University Of Lagos (UNILAG), explained that raising the obligatory fees was a difficult, but necessary decision that had been taken even before the subsidy removal.

“This was to reduce the growing deficit. The fees still mean that the university can continue to subsidise the education.

Japa Syndrom/ Brain

The year 2023 marked a period Nigerians, especially public university lecturers, continued to leave the system in droves for greener pastures abroad.

The trend that has continued into the new year has become a threat to the future of Nigeria’s tertiary education.

Already, about 50 per cent of lecturers are said to have resigned from the various universities, while others who are yet to leave, are warming up.

Reasons for the JAPA are the desire for better working conditions, career fulfilment, insecurity, poor salaries, inadequate funding and non-payment of outstanding salaries of university teachers, among others.

Data showed that as much as 80 per cent of the remaining workers are preparing to leave if the current situation persists.

The president of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Dr Uche Ojinmah, recently disclosed that in the last eight years, over 5,600 Nigerian doctors migrated to the UK alone.

The report said the exodus is even worse among nurses.

“No fewer than 75,000 nurses and midwives have reportedly left the country in the last five years, according to Mr Micheal Nnachi, the president of the National Association of Nigerian Nurses and Midwives (NANNM).

Student Loan Act

Although the Federal Government has announced January as a take-off date for the Students Loan Act, some sections of the education sector are of the view that the scheme is a scam introduced by the government to douse agitationd for increased funding and check reckless spending.

“By January 2024, the new students loan programme must commence. To the future of our children and students we’re saying no more strikes,” the president said on Monday. “I thank my team and my colleagues for building this programme.”

The Students Loan Bill was sponsored by Femi Gbajabiamila, the immediate-past Speaker of the House of Representatives, now Chief of Staff to the president.

The law provides for the establishment of the Nigerian Education Loan Fund, which will have the power to administer, supervise, coordinate, and monitor the management of student loans in the country.

Based on the provisions of the law, the fund is expected to receive and screen applications for student loans through higher institutions on behalf of the applicants.

In a publication, the National Coordinator of the Education Rights Campaign (ERC), Comrade Taiwo Hassan-Soweto, listed 10 reasons why the gesture was a scam.

However, as Nigerians look forward to the implementation of the Loan Act, some students still cast doubts over access to the facility that is already burdened by different shades of inhibitions.

Toronto Certificates from Universities in the Benin Republic

Just before the year ended, a lid was blown open over the certificate racketeering trade booming in the neighbouring Benin Republic.

The story was about Nigerians obtaining questionable degree certificates from universities in Benin Republic and Togo with ease and speed.

The requirements are O-level certificates, fake or genuine, and the required amount of money, which varies, depending on the course, urgency and class of degree

It was alleged that in less than a month or two, one can be a ‘graduate’ from any of the mushroom universities that dotted across the two West African countries.

The beneficiaries of these substandard certificates, who are either unintelligent or lazy, compete for jobs and other opportunities with hard-working graduates who passed formal academic programmes.

The report read, “On December 27, 2022, our reporter made the payment and was issued a payment receipt. True to the agent’s words, the certificate and transcript of Ecole Superieure de Gestion et de Technologies, ESGT, Cotonou, Benin Republic, were delivered to his office on February 17, 2023.

Payment of ASUU members’ salary and IPPIS

Following the approval by the FG to pay four months of the eightt salary areas owed university workers, the Federal Executive Council (FEC) approved and announced the removal of public tertiary institutions from the integrated payroll and personnel information system (IPPIS).

According to Mohammed Idris, Minister of Information, the development means that staff of public universities, polytechnics, and colleges of education, have been taken off IPPIS.

In the past 15 years, Nigeria’s budgetary allocation to education consistently kept fluctuating between 5 and 10 per cent of the total budget size.

In 2017 for example, education was allocated N605.8 billion representing 7.04 per cent of the total budget. While it received N580 billion, representing 4.43 per cent of the total budget size of N13.08 trillion in 2021, it was allocated N888.82 billion, representing 5.42 per cent of the, total budget size of N16.39 trillion in 2022.

In the 2024 budget proposal currently before the National Assembly, education has a sectorial allocation of N1.438 trillion, representing 5.23 per cent of the total budget size.

Going by UBEC June 2023, Nigeria has a total enrolment figure of 47 million pupils in 177,027 basic schools, the country will need an additional 20,000 schools and 907,769 classrooms to absorb the frightening number of the out-of-school children in the country.”

As 2024 sets in, Nigerians look forward to the magic the government will perform N1.438trn for its renewed hope agenda for the education sector.

Daily Independent

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