FG to increase education funding by 25%

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David Adejo

The Minister of Education, Prof. Tahir Mamman, has expressed the commitment of President Bola Tinubu to improve the education budget for the year by 25 per cent, and to place the right policies in place. Mamman said this while declaring open the Nigeria Annual Education Conference (NAEC) in Abuja recently. The theme of the conference was: “Implementation of Education 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in Nigeria”.

The minister pledged his personal commitment to bridge the gap between education policy statements and their actualization. He noted that the country had a lot of good policies on what was required in the best interest of the nation but those policies were not bringing values to the sector.  He also said President Tinubu had directed the return of the 10.5 million out-of-school children to school before the expiration of his tenure.

”We still have a long way to go. We are not matching the children in the country with the desired education and this is because our policies are not producing the values we need. What we need is action on ground and not policy declaration. This is where I can tell you we intend to come in. We want to bridge the gap between policy statements and their actualization. This is to give them future training that will enable them to live their lives and make them employers of labour. Everybody deserves to live a life of dignity for the well-being of their family,” he said.

He explained that the responsibility of government was to provide opportunities for Nigerians to be empowered and that now was the time to make the policy work in reality. He also said that basic and secondary schools must be equipped by developing appropriate skills template for creativity and research. “We know that a society which had benefitted from education is known for nurturing of creativity and research which starts from the lower levels,” he said.

He assured that government was aware that there was need for implementation strategies to provide mechanisms for constant monitoring and evaluation of policies, to ensure the SDG goals were achieved. Government was also dealing with that fact.

The minister expressed concern over the state of insecurity in schools and in the nation generally, lamenting the recent killing of one Miss Deborah Atanda, a nursing student of Federal University, Oye-Ekiti few days ago. He, therefore, directed the Vice-Chancellor of the institution, in concerted efforts with the security, to uncover the perpetrators of the heinous act and bring them to book.

He charged stakeholders to work with the Federal Ministry of Education and agencies as well as state ministries of education to identify innovative approaches for improved funding and ensuring inclusive, equitable, quality education and life-long opportunities.

Meanwhile, the Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Education, David Adejo has explained that the 2021 and 2022 edition of the conference could not hold because of COVID-19 recovery which informed its delay till now. Adejo, represented by the Director, Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in the ministry, Abubakar Isah, charged stakeholders to deliberate on ways of collaborating and partnership towards actualizing the 2030 education agenda.

Also, the Education Adviser, Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), James O’Donoghue, pledged UK’s commitment to support Nigeria in actualizing the 2030 SDG agenda and to ensure that every child receives quality education. O’Donoghue called on the Nigerian government to ensure increased funding for education and also to ensure that the money is utilized for the overall purpose of education.

NAN reports that the UN suggested to the federal government to increase its current budgetary allocation to the education sector from seven to 20 per cent in order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal 4— which predicates on universal, inclusive and equitable basic education for all school-age children by 2030.

For years, Nigeria’s allocation to the education sector has been below the recommended benchmark for developing nations. In the 2023 budget, the sector got N1.79 trillion — representing 8.2 per cent of the appropriation bill — according to Zainab Ahmed, the then Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning. Giving a further breakdown, the former minister said N103.29 billion was allocated for Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) while transfers to the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND) for infrastructure projects in tertiary institutions was N248.27 billion. Ahmed also said that N470 billion was allocated for tertiary education’s revitalization and salary enhancement.

For context, the education sector got the second largest allocation in the budget after defence and security sectors which accounted for N2.98 trillion — representing 13.4 per cent of the budget. The United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organizations (UNESCO) recommended that member nations should earmark four to six per cent of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) or 15 to 20 of public expenditure (annual budget) to fund education. However, UNESCO said “the majority of countries have not yet reached this threshold”. The 2023 allocation to the sector was an increase from that of last year’s budget which gave education N923.79 billion representing 5.4 per cent of the N17.23trillion budget.

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