According to the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) “Access to quality education would empower children to be full and active participants in society, able to exercise their rights and engage in civil and political life.” This is so true. We totally agree.
As we tackle so many issues in the Nigerian educational system, one major thing cannot be overlooked; that funds are important in the proper running of a system. The amount of funds released and circulated within the educational system will determine to a very large extent the quality of education that can be accessed among all other factors.
Quality refers to ‘the degree of excellence of something.’ Therefore, the quality of education is all encompassing including the school infrastructure, the general administration of the school, the quality and remuneration of teachers and most especially the quality of learning that the students receive.
Adequate funding has great impact on the educational system and poor funding does the opposite. The government is the major provider of this funds. When the government invest in their schools and educational system; adequate infrastructures, conducive learning environments, security systems, proper remuneration of teacher are put in place leading to increase in students achievement levels rise, and the positive effects are even greater among students from low-income earning families because their backgrounds have not prevented them from accessing quality education.
It is not news that the Nigerian education system has been poorly funded over the years. And once again in this year, 2021, news has it that the amount allocated to the education sector is still below encouraging. In fact, in January, the National Association of Nigerian Students’ President, Comrade Sunday Asefon described the amount allocated to the education sector in the country’s 2021 budget as the worst in a decade. [Vanguard News]. The money is not sufficient to cater for the basic educational needs in the country, talk more of bringing the entire system up to standard. No wonder we still struggle with poor infrastructure, constant strike actions by teachers and so much more.
It is then quite disheartening to hear allegations of corruption put on the educational bodies and agencies that should be at the forefront of the fight for better and quality education for children. The ‘little money’ released is still being mishandled and misappropriated. Worse, most of it cannot be accounted for. The monies are disbursed probably to individuals/contractors that have no interest or desire for better education and the records are not even kept. How then can we go far as a system and a nation? The students who are mostly at the receiving end, suffer grossly for it. They continue to face poor learning conditions and their security is even further threatened as seen over the years and even in recent news with the kidnap and killings in schools. This does not leave much hope for many children in Nigeria that desire to acquire formal education and make better lives for themselves.
Need we be reminded of the vision of the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC); To be a world class education intervention and regulatory agency for the promotion of uniform, qualitative and functional basic education in Nigeria. If this vision is to be upheld then the bad eggs within the system need to be identified and removed. The unpalatable allegation staring the agency in the face need to be checked. Not forgetting that the State Universal Basic Education Boards (SUBEBs) need to rise up to their responsibilities of providing access to quality education for the Nigerian populace.
Knowing that education is key to economic growth. A strong education system broadens access to opportunities, improves health, and bolsters the resilience of communities. That is why, Flickers of Hope Foundation cannot be quiet. As we strive to see that many children are enrolled back to school. We desire that at least they should be able to access the best quality of education they deserve and this cannot be achieved if the monies that come into the system are still not adequately used for what it is intended and accountability within the system is still an issue.
Honesty, accountability, integrity and transparency should be priority core values in handling of funds and the wellbeing of the students’ education to be top-most priority, if the educational system will take a turn for the better. We therefore join SERAP to call out to all stakeholders that this matter shouldn’t be let to slide like many other education matters that have been swept under the carpet. All offenders should be properly addressed. The future of the children, the educational system and Nigeria depends on it. If this is not done, many more such incidences may keep replaying itself and the educational system continually suffers.
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