PRESS BRIEFING BY CSACEFA, ONE CAMPAIGN AND MALALA FUND CALLING ON THE PRESIDENT AND HON. MINISTER OF EDUCATION TO URGENTLY ADDRESS THE INCESSANT CHALLENGES IN THE EDUCATION SECTOR ON 9TH MARCH 2018.
We the Civil Society Action Coalition on Education for All (CSACEFA) an Umbrella body of NGOs working in the area of education in Nigeria, the ONE CAMPAIGN, and the MALALA FUND is seizing this opportunity to call on the President Federal Republic of Nigeria Muhammad Buhari and the Honourable Minister of Education MallamAdamuAdamu to urgently come up with concrete measures to address the incessant challenges in the education sector. We can no longer continue to relegate the important sector of the economy to the background when we are aspiring to be among the top world economies. It is sadden to note that education has receive low priority and attention both at the national and state levels over the years. Little wonder why we are bedeviled with the various crisis we experience in the country today.
There are various challenges in the education sector but we want to highlight the key issues that need urgent attention.
- Security: The issue of security and how it affect our educational systems especially in the North East of Nigeria is worrisome. In April 14,2014,276 girls were abducted in Chibok community in Borno state and uptill this moment only 82 girls have so far been released. As if that is not enough in Feb 19 2018, 110 girls in Dapchi community in Yobe State were also abducted and still not rescued. It is sadden because both incident happened in similar historical circumstance of security neglect and laxity. We are worried because as concerned citizens, the attacks on girls in school in the North East will cripple the successes we have recorded in championing the cause for the education of the girl child in the over the years. And if this is not urgently addressed in few years to come it might endanger girls/women participation and representation in our democratic processes. We need a more proactive measure other than setting up committees. Many children in the North East have dropped out of school and parents are afraid of sending their wards to school for fear of attacks. And this have led to increase in the number of out of school in the country as schools have been closed in some communities.
- We ask, if it were children of the highly placed in the society that are kidnapped, will government be setting up committees? Why do government choose to play politics and lip service to the safety of our children in schools?How long do we continue to expose children to dangers and leave families in agonies?Aside the North East and the abducted girls, most of our schools are still porous and are hideout for criminals and thugs. Children have to walk up to 5-6 kilometers to school every day in some cases lonely bush paths and girls are daily raped in schools and others given out early in marriage.
- Education Finance/ Funding: The budgetary allocation to education at the national and state level has been on decline despite the huge challenges in the sector.During the special Federal Executive Council (FEC) retreat on challenges facing the education sector in November 2017, the Honourable Minister of education noted that the sector needs N2 trillion to address the challenges in the education sector based on the Ministerial Strategic Plan (MSP) 2016 -2019 developed.But in the 2018 budget appropriation bill, the Federal government allocation to education was 7%against the recommended 26% of national budget. Worrisome is that the little resources is highly allocated to recurrent expenditure than capital expenditures. While we commend some states that have budgeted over 26% of their state budget to education it is important to note that no sustainable development could be achieved without investment in the education sector. Hence we are calling on state government yet to access the UBE Fund where over N70 billion is laying fallow at the CBN to urgently meet up the criteria of putting their own counterpart fund to address basic needs in their states. We call on states like Ebonyi, Ondo, Bayelsa, Niger etcand others to access the fund.
- Teacher Development: The quality of our teachers especially at the basic level of education needs an urgent action. The poor learning outcomes of our children in school today could be attributed to the quality of teachers. The teaching profession has be politicized to the extent that it is used as compensation for political loyalist and the never do well. Little wonder why those with low grades in JAMB are pushed to colleges of education and we want to get the best from the system and compete with top world economics. Our teachers are poorly paid and motivated in some states like Kogi, teachers are owned salaries as long as 15 months. How do you expect to get the best from a teacher when they are poorly treated? No wonder there have been rise in proliferation of private schools thereby reducing access to schooling for children from the poor and marginalised homes leading to increase on the rate of out of school children in the country.
- Teaching and learning environment: The pitiable sight of pupils sitting on the floor and broken chairs in our public schools is sorrowful. In all levels education in the country, the story is still the same, children learning under trees, overcrowded classrooms, and classroom inaccessible to the people with disabilities. The teacher pupil ratio as high as 1:120 with lack of textbook and other learning aids. Despite these challenges, the government at all levels have not shown commitments towards tackling the challenges of education as we don’t have functional Education Management and Information System (EMIS) for proper and effective planning.
We ask, looking at the enormous and strategic position of education in nation building, should education continue to be on the concurrent list? Can’t we make education the sole responsibility of state government so that we hold state government accountable when they failed to deliver quality education to the citizens?
In conclusion, we need to remind the Hon. Minister of education that it is not enough to declare a State of Emergency in the education sector as he is planning to do. What have happened to states that have declared state of emergency in the sector over the years? We are seeing the declaration as a lip service without any concrete measure/steps to follow words with action. Past administration had a Presidential committee on education and last year November, the present administration held a special FEC retreat on education and with all these, we are yet to see any step taken to address the looming challenges in the sector.
Therefore, we hereby call on The President and Hon Minister of education to urgently.
- Put all mechanism in place to ensure the safe release of both the remaining Chibok and recently abducted Dapchi girls.
- Increase security measures in all our schools across the country especially in the North East.
- Ensure that all children irrespective of gender, religion or location have access to safe and quality education and this includes quality well motivated teachers.
- Have a coordinated EMIS at the national, state and local government level that will inform proper planning and budgeting
- Increase budgetary allocation to education and put up sanctions on state government that failed to access the UBE Funds
- Publish and make accessible all UBE and TETFund allocations to basic and tertiary education respectively
- Fund vocational and entrepreneurship skills in schools right from basic education to tertiary level to promote long-life learning to address the issue of unemployment in the society.
We are signatory to various laws and declarations that promotes education as a right and it is the duty of the government to ensure that children in schools have a secured safe and quality education. It is a right and not a privilege.
Girls are becoming endangered in our society as they are either raped, abducted, given out to marriage at tender age, house helps etc. We abhor any neglect on girls and women as they make up 60% of our population.Education is a human right and a right investment any nation can make.
Huge proportion of our budget should be channelled to education and not security vote because education is the only veritable sustainable investment any government can make to guarantee a secured future.
We end with the Malala Yousafzai quote “With guns you can kill terrorists, with education, you can kill terrorism”.