Funding of Education in Nigeria below UNESCO Recommended Benchmark, Says Ministry

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Laleye Dipo in Minna

The Federal Ministry of Education Monday declared that the funding of education at all levels in the country is below the benchmark recommended by the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).

While UNESCO’s benchmark for funding of education was 26 per cent of the national budget and 6 per cent of the gross domestic products (GDP), Nigeria has been allocating 6 per cent of the national budget to the funding of its education.

The Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Education, Mr. Sunny Echono, made this disclosure at the opening ceremony of the 78th plenary meeting of the Joint Consultative Committee on Education with the theme: “Funding of Education for the achievement of Education, 2030 Agenda” at the Justice Idris Legbo Kutigi International Conference Centre, Minna, Niger State on Monday.

Ochono said in the 2017 Appropriation Act, N448.01 billion representing 6.0 per cent of the N7.30 trillion budget was allocated to education.

According to him, “This situation is not so different in the states where in 2017 33 states of the federation allocated 7.3 per cent of their combined total budget estimates to education compared to 2016 when N653.53 billion (10.70%) of N6.1 trillion was allocated to education in Nigeria.

“With the current population of about 171 million, 45 per cent of which are below 15 years, there is huge demand for learning opportunities translating into increased enrolment which has created challenges in ensuring quality education since resources are spread more thinly.”

Echono observed that the burden on education had become overwhelming, resulting in more than 100 pupils for one teacher as against the UNESCO benchmark of 35 students per teacher culminating in students learning under trees for lack of classrooms.

The permanent secretary noted that the situation had become more complicated in the North-eastern part of the country, “where the Boko Haram insurgency has deprived many children access to education, teachers had been killed and schools burnt down”.

Echono declared that for Nigeria to join the comity of Nations in achieving the 2030 agenda, there must be concerted efforts in increasing funding of education.

Niger State Commissioner for Education, Hajia Fatima Madugu, in her address, said the government had invested heavily in the development of educational infrastructure and recruitment of teachers since 2015.

Hajia Madugu said for instance, “the Whole School Development Approach renovation of schools was unprecedented in the state”, adding that “the feat has significantly improved the teacher and learning in schools.”

“It is also expected that the output of children in these schools would be colourful at the end of their secondary school education,” she said.

Madugu expressed the hope that the “disarticulation” of the ministry of education would create closer monitoring of education at the tertiary level because of the complexities inherent in managing tertiary education.

All the 36 states of the federation including the FCT, military and paramilitary services, education departments are attending the meeting.