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Intervention In The Educational Policy System In Nigeria

By

*Muyiwa IBIGBAMI


INTRODUCTION

Education is a learning path to productivity and mental development and is the bedrock of any given society. Education requires a constant effort at improvement in order to suit the changing world. A major world innovation that has affected the educational system in recent times is digitalisation, which has brought about digital learning.


The educational system in Nigeria has evolved over the years, with policy reviews and implementation as the core of this evolution. Furthermore, the educational change movement has met with various challenges that have slowed down its progress towards attaining world standard, which has in turn, drastically reduced access to education in Nigeria.


The objective of this paper, however, is to identify challenges affecting access to education in Nigeria, identify areas in which government had intervened with solutions and proffer remedies and new approaches to the existing challenges. The purpose of the National Policy on Education in Nigeria is to ensure that proper administration, management and implementation of the educational system is established in all spheres of the country. It provides the direction for educational activities.


THE NATIONAL POLICY ON EDUCATION IN NIGERIA AND ITS CHALLENGES

The National Policy on Education in Nigeria is a statement of government goals, regulations, anticipations, expectations, requirements and standards to ensure quality delivery of education in Nigeria. As much as the National Educational policy of Nigeria is aimed at building a more prosperous and united nation, it is sad to say that the educational system in the country has fallen short of the stipulated standard, and therefore can be reckoned as a monumental failure, and in a critically unfavourable state.


Below are the challenges of national policy on education in Nigeria:


1. Corruption

This is one of the major challenges associated with the implementation of the national policy on education in Nigeria, as funds provided for the educational sector are grossly mismanaged by those charged with ensuring effective management of the educational system.


2. Poor Funding for Education

The state of the educational system in Nigeria is deplorable and this is due to lack of proper funding by the government. The national policy on education in Nigeria would suffer hiccups because of the poor funding of the educational sector which would result to poor outcome in the nation’s development. For instance, in 2022, the educational sector received its lowest budgetary allocation with a 5.93% of the total National budget, whereas the UNESCO benchmark allocation to education is 15-20% of public expenditure. With this consistently poor government funding of the educational sector, there’s no way Nigeria can achieve the sustainable goal of inclusive and quality education.


3. Poor Management

The educational sector in Nigeria is poorly managed which has resulted to the fallen standard in the level of education in the country. The national policy on education cannot be actualized as there is lack of proper management for educational system in the country. Policy reviews are good and are aimed at national development, however, lack of proper monitoring and implementation has been the bane of development of the educational system in Nigeria.


4. Poorly paid Educational Workers

This is yet another challenge of the national policy on education in Nigeria as poorly paid educational workers lack enthusiasm and full commitment to work which would in return affect the education sector in the country. The incessant strikes by lecturers of tertiary institution, especially the recent ASUU strike that lasted over 8 months is not unconnected with the very poor attention given to the welfare of teachers. As long as the welfare of teachers is not prioritized by the government it will continue to impact negatively on the standard of education in Nigeria.


5. Poor Infrastructure

A place that is not fit for learning would result to a bad outcome and this is applicable to the educational sector in Nigeria as most institutions of learning are in bad condition. Students are condemned to such ill conditions which can badly affect them. The learning environment has a huge impact on the quality of education. The Nigerian educational system has very poor infrastructures and this continue to impact on the quality of graduates produced. In both the basic and tertiary education, the number of teachers to students ratio is so wide that it makes learning difficult because of poor infrastructure.


6. Economic Hardship

As it becomes increasingly difficult for citizens to be able to afford a meal a day due to the biting economic hardship, it is becoming also difficult to send their wards to school, hence the increasing number of out-of-school children. In the current administration, the number of out-of-school children increased from 10.5 million in 2020 to 20 million in 2022, according to the United Nations. This is an indication of ravaging poverty and its adverse impact on the education sector.


Higher Education

There has been more focus on the basic education policies in Nigeria, compared to the higher education system where issue pertaining to access to education, also persist. In this case, challenges differ based on geographic location, academic discipline, admission policies, funding, and ownership.


The result of these challenges, however, is reflected in statistics collated by the National Universities Commission and Joint Admission Matriculation Board, which shows that the ratio of higher education applicants to those admitted into universities, is very low. According to the report, 15.3% of applicants, were admitted into the University.


RECOMMENDATIONS


Areas of Intervention include:


Accreditation

By providing infrastructure for public tertiary institutions to meet up with accreditation requirements, the government enables these institutions to offer accredited courses with relevant infrastructure, thereby giving applicants more access to an upgraded educational system.

The government should dissociate education from politics and geopolitical policies such as quota system, carrying capacity, catchment areas, environmental and educationally disadvantaged areas. These deny applicants fair access to education, based on state of origin. A free for all policy based on academic performance should instead, be implemented.


Furthermore, local campuses of already existing universities, should be built across rural areas to foster development as well as give access to inhabitants of local communities to acquire higher education.


Develop the Technical and Vocational Education

Education and training are central to the achievement of the 2030 agenda. The vision of the Incheon declaration is fully captured by the Sustainable Development Goal 4, which states: “Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote learning opportunities for all.” Technical and Vocational education plays a critical role in achieving the SDG4


Education 2030 devotes considerable attention to technical and vocational Education and Training (TVET) and this plays a critical role in Youth empowerment. In today’s global reality, skill acquisition is at the core of youth empowerment and productivity.


The recent 6-3-3-4 education policy which allows students of junior secondary school to proceed to technical schools in pursuit of technical or vocational certification is a welcome development and would help promote technical education, and foster development. However, the implementation and monitoring of this policy has been a huge challenge since its introduction. More so, the dilapidated technical school structure has posed a serious set back to this policy as this doesn’t provide endearment for students who wish to pursue technical training.


Therefore, the government must ensure that this policy is implemented and sustained. Also, the government must provide adequate funding to technical and vocational education and ensure there is no bias between the technical schools and other tertiary institutions.


Digitalization of Education

Leverage on digitalization should be adopted as this grants a wide range of access to education through online courses. This gives opportunity to individuals to work and learn, thereby positively impacting on the educational system, as well as the economy of Nigeria. Digital learning should be inculcated into the learning experience of both basic and tertiary schools to meet the global standards, and intellectual property should be protected.


Adequate Funding

In prioritizing education, government need to provide adequate funding to both basic and tertiary public and private schools and ensure proper monitoring and management of those funds.

Seeing that government has shown lack of capacity or political will to properly fund education in Nigeria, it is recommended that they enact policies that would see special interventions from banks to fund educational projects. For instance, just like we have Bank of Industry (BOI), we could have a bank that is focused on providing educational loans to both private and public schools at a single digit interest.


Furthermore, the government should make policies that would enable private organizations to provide funding and support for schools with the benefit of tax rebates. With this policy, more funding can be available to schools by companies who know they can get tax rebates from government.


In providing adequate funding for the education sector, the welfare of teachers will also be given proper attention, and this will in return impact on the overall quality standard and quality of education.


Empower Mission Schools

Before the government took over schools from Mission bodies, the organizations provide quality and affordable education to the populace, and this helped to bridge the funding gap inadequacies. The withdrawal of schools from mission organization has created a vacuum in standard of education and inclusive education. Seeing that government alone cannot properly fund education, we recommend that they allow faith-based schools to run alongside government owned schools.


Curriculum

There should be a policy on the curriculum in schools with the aim to ensure uniformity of learning experience and promote quality and standard of education. The culture of the country should be entrenched in such policies to promote morality and patriotism. The government need to monitor the curriculum in schools and ensure that the standard of education is not eroded by estranged ideals.


Conclusion

Education is very important and cannot be ignored as it is the bed rock of development of a nation. The national policy on education is meant to ensure that the educational system is properly managed but due to the aforementioned challenges, there is a huge setback in the development of educational system in Nigeria. However, if the recommendations from stakeholders and policy makers can be harnessed by the government, we can be sure to achieve the sustainable development goal, SDG 4 which stipulates quality and inclusive education in 2030.



*Muyiwa Ibigbami is the Executive Director, Yes, We Are Winning Foundation (YWAW)


This paper was presented at our policy dialogue, titled, 'An Agenda For The Next President', held in Lagos on February 7th, 2023.

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