Quantity as against Quality; Lagos State Education Sector Challenge, Impact on Skills Development
'The quality of education in Nigeria has fallen’ is a popular saying among Nigerians especially educationists and those who had their education when things where good – before the 80’s. Drastic increase in population, corruption, scarce resources, policy instability, poor planning and implementation have been the main challenges of the sector that have impacted on the sector’s development and growth.
More recently government at different levels in the country have been somewhat reckless in their decisions, choice of programs, policy formulation, implementation, monitoring and evaluation with usually undeserving interests in politicizing, ethicizing and sectionalizing of issues and approach to its work; mostly without considerations to the quality of education and services rendered. A more recent case in study is the federal government of Nigeria’s creation of 9 new universities in November 2010 that cuts across all Nigeria’s 6 ‘geo-Political zones’, bringing the total number of federal universities in the country to 37. This was in a time when already existing universities are poorly funded and lacks the capacity to train graduates that has the skills and competence to compete in the labour market.
Government’s only interest is to ensure that every state in the country has at least a federal university (quantity) without any regards the capacity of these institutions to impact knowledge (quality). Its argument was to increase access to university education to the growing population of young people without adequate budgetary allocation to the sector to optimally meet its needs. Unfortunately this is the case in many states of the federation where governments pay most attention to quantity and not quality, and Lagos State is no exception.
A recent report ‘An Analysis of the Lagos State Budget (2010-2011) The Education Sector’ by The Lagos State Civil Society Partnership (LACSOP) – a platform of major civil society networks in Lagos State, Nigeria sponsored by the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development’s State Accountability and Voice Initiative (SAVI) highlights many challenges in the state’s education sector. These challenges were discussed under the following points:
- Access to education at junior and secondary education, is low for the poor.
- Quality and relevance of basic and secondary education is inadequate for skills development.
- There is inadequate funding, the quality of education expenditures is low; and there is a lack of accountability mechanisms.
- Weak skills development not responsive to labour market needs.
It will be observed that in the above challenges the phrases ‘Quality, Inadequate and Skills Development’ appeared twice and labour market (work) once and used in terms that highlight the low funding, low quality of education which impacts on the development of relevant skills for the work.
A more striking revelation in the report is the budget breakdown/ expenditure under Basic Education Services (BES) whereN510 Million (USD $ 317,085.31) was spent on examination expenses in 2009 and 2010 while token sums ofN27, 121,284.00 (USD $ 168,622.76) andN9, 680,000.00 (USD $ 60,184.04) were spent on books in 2009 and 2010 respectively and training, very insignificant sum spent on workshops, conferences, seminars and library services.
This leaves one to wonder where government places priority in allocating resources, is it more interested in examining students on their knowledge when actually they were not taught or better still provided with adequate teaching and learning materials, no training for the teachers and more. This situation has impacted very negatively on the quality and relevance of basic and secondary education with regards to the acquisition of skills as seen in challenge (2).
It further highlights a Federal Ministry of Education survey in 2007 which reveals that 60% of Nigerian ‘graduates are unemployable primarily because they do not have sufficient skills to adapt to the needs of the ever changing and dynamic business environment’, yet it is doing little or nothing to reverse the trend; definitely not by allocating more resources to examinations than to providing learning materials. More so outcomes of the examinations taken by students indicate very poor results, as only 30% of candidates who sat for the 2011 West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) obtained 5 credit passes.
This is a more recent indicator that the sector is very sick and needs serious intervention, no wonder the sector experiences high capital flight to Ghana, UK, USA, and lately the rest of Europe and Asian countries in billions of dollars annually - sometimes in sums that is Nigeria’s budget for education for 5 years. The Central bank of Nigeria’s governor had in a paper presentation in 2011 revealed that not less than N155 Billion (USD $963,930,330.27) is spent annually on tuition fees by about 71,000 Nigerian students studying in Ghana while Nigeria’s annual budgetary allocation in the year for the 37 Federal Universities in Nigeria was N121 Billion (USD $752,487,548.15). He went on to warn that ‘the present political structures of Nigeria are too cumbersome and economically wasteful to guarantee rapid development of the country and a state of emergency should be declared in Nigeria’s educational sector because procrastination on the issue will inflict incalculable and irreversible damage in the nation.’
This report by LACSOP was presented to the Lagos State Government for study, to help it plan better and allocate resources to the right programs, policies to better improve the outputs of the sectors programs. Fortunately, this year’s budget shows a slight increase in the allocation to the Education Sector - 13.48% from 13.09% and 13.26% for 2011 and 2010 respectively and it is hope the very critical aspects of the education sector will receive better and funding it deserves.
We only hope things to get better as we continue to engage government to do the right thing.
Nigeria goes to London 2012 Olympics
I will be missing out a great deal this summer if I fail to win a jackpot to fund my trip to see the London 2012 Olympics Games, shop all I can and enjoy all the leisure that the city has to offer, though am not good at gambling or yet to pass through the doors of a casino. However am sure that many of Nigeria’s government officials and politicians will not miss a dime of the entertainment and fun that the games will offer and will not ‘give a damn’ as President Jonathan wouldn’t to how much of Nigeria’s tax payers money they will spend to actualize this without actually doing anything that will benefit our performance at the games.
I can imagine the number of Nigeria’s government officials and politicians that will flood into London during the games as members of Nigeria’s usual large official delegation to sporting events especially when London doubles as Nigerians’ second capital, home, holiday destination and safest haven for hiding /investing and spending proceeds of money laundering by her political class. I am not to be deceived by the government’s recent announcement that there will be no official government delegation and ‘jamboree’ to the games. I am sure this is intended to douse any future media attention and criticisms from the public of the number of its officials that will be seen in London this summer. Government will be quick to remind us that any government official or politician seen in London during the games is either seeing his family – personal visit, attending an official assignment, on annual leave… and not there as part of Team Nigeria delegation, hence no tax payers money is carelessly spent. But we know that our treasury was looted to fund the super luxurious enjoyment.
Many of them will be there to see what investments to make especially as the UK government looks forward to investments and growth in its ailing economy after the games. While touring the Magnificent Olympic Stratford City in December 2011, especially the Westfield Shopping Centre (now the biggest shopping mall in the whole of Europe), I fantasized of owning some of the property in the complex including the halls and flats that would accommodate the athletes that adorned the formerly abandoned West Ham. I envisioned an economically revived East London after the games, the business interests I would hold, after a while I stopped and starting thinking of how many of Nigerian corrupt government officials and politicians would be ‘fortunate’ to buy into the property market there, but not until the London Olympics Committee decides of what to do with the structures after the games.
It will be no fantasy for them as investment capital will never be a problem, I am sure many of them have already made ready their funds, lawyers and agents of the likes of Bhadresh Gohil, Daniel McCann and Lambertus De Boer. Some who are yet to do so will take the advantage of last minutes global wire transfer traffic to UK banks for the games to move their loots across. It is hoped these will not be detected by either the UK security and counter money laundering units not to talk of the banks that are willing to have these funds at their end at all costs. The Nigerian Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is also not prepared for this maneuvers as it is yet to grabble with lots of mountainous financial scandals (#FuelSubsidy, #FaroukOtedola, #PolicePensionFund, #CapitalMarket,…) it is currently ‘busy’ with.
The UK Police, EFCC, Nigerian and UK banks, Central Bank of Nigeria must at this time keep good track of all movements of funds to identify and stop the wire of illicit funds and save Nigeria from her unrepentant plundering greedy gluttonous corrupt treasury looters. In a case where the movement has been successfully effected, the offenders should be investigated and prosecuted with all needed evidence to forestall the situation where it took years for James Ibori’s investigation, prosecution and sentencing for money laundering charges. That way the UK government will save her tax payers millions of pounds in prosecution costs put at £40,000 per week and development aid through her Department for International Development (DfID) that ordinarily wouldn’t be needed if governments of recipient countries especially Nigeria should effectively utilize the resources at their disposal for development.
More importantly EFCC should expedite the process of bringing to justice other corrupt Nigerian government officials and politicians who have questions to answer with it to serve as a strong deterrent to many others that have the intentions to corruptly enrich themselves with public funds.