Laleye Dipo in Minna
The federal Ministry of Education on Tuesday 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 benchmark for funding of education was 26 percent of the national budget and six percent of the gross domestic products (GDP), Nigeria was allocating six percent 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: â€˜Funding of Education for the achievement of Education, 2030 Agendaâ€™ which was held at the Justice Idris Legbo Kutigi international conference centre, Minna, Niger State yesterday.
Ochono said in the 2017 Appropriation Act, N448.01 billion representing 6.0 percent of the N7.30 trillion budget was allocated to education.
â€œThis situation is not so different in the 36 states of the federation where in 2017, 7.3 percent of their combined total budget estimates to education could be compared to 2016 when N653.53 billion (10.70 percent) of N6.1 trillion was allocated to education in Nigeria.
â€œWith the current population of about 171 million, 45 percent 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.â€
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, as students also learn 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, â€œwhere the Boko Haram terrorism has deprived many children access to education, teachers had been killed and schools burnt down.â€
Echono declared that for Nigeria to join the comity of nations in achieving the 2030 agenda, there must be concerted efforts to increase funding of education.
Niger State Commissioner for Education, Hajia Fatima Madugu, in her address, said the state government had invested heavily in the development of educational infrastructure and recruitment of teachers since 2015.
Madugu said for instance, â€œthe â€˜Whole School Development Approach, Renovation of Schoolsâ€™ was unprecedented in the state,â€ adding that â€œthe feat has significantly improve the teacher and learning in schools.
â€œIt is also expected that the output of children in these schools would be impressive at the end of their secondary school education.â€
She further expressed the hope that the â€œdisarticulationâ€ of the ministry of education would create for closer monitoring of education at the tertiary level because of the complexities inherent in managing tertiary education.â€
All the 36 states of the federation, including the FCT, military and paramilitary services, education departments attended the meeting.