By Maryam Abeeb, Abuja
Despite many years of effort, the education system in Nigeria remains weak, especially in Northern Nigeria, although the poor quality of statistical data hampers a clear analysis of the numbers.
A large number of children remain out of school. The UIS-UNESCO data estimates 10million primary children are out of school. Which the government has
Meanwhile, annual school census data in the populous northern Kano state conducted with the assistance of a UKAid program suggest that significant improvements have been made in access since 2011, but not necessarily quality.
On the other hand, UNICEF and other data highlight a high number of displaced schoolchildren in the insurgency-affected northeastern states. For instance, the International Organization for Migration reports that 423,000 (28%) of the 1,491,706 persons in Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Taraba, and Yobe states are of school age.
However, Funding for education has come primarily from federal and local governments resources over the years; state governments have tended to prioritize tertiary education relying on local governments’ resources for primary education.
A general lack of accountability inherent in current practices leads to inefficiency in use of resources. Officials estimate that these challenges account for 40% – 45 % of allocated funds. Recurrent capital expenditure imbalances in budgetary allocations aggravate the challenges and stifle the provision of education infrastructure.
The non -inclusion of performance conditions in the criteria for federal matching grants to state governments on basic education may lead to lack of incentives for performance and inefficiency.
State and non-state actors can improve their performances. Federal and state governments need to invest in creating a reliable and sustainable education database to improve planning and management.
Other conditions should include the release of funds in tranches to match achievement of preset access and quality targets and the provision of state governments’ counterpart funding from their own resources. States that fail to meet standards over time should return their funding to the federal pool and receive a special assistance package for supervised capacity building. Finally, donor resources would best support capacity building to improve governance – especially in the creation of a reliable and sustainable database and in improving financial accountability, including routine tracking of expenditure.
As part of effort to create an easy access to fund in the education sector, the first ever education finance bank, known as ‘Edfin’ Microfinance Bank, MfB, has been unveiled in Nigeria in order to increase access to finance in the education eco-system.
The Managing Director/Chief Executive, Edfin MfB, Mrs. Bunmi Lawson, explained that about 80 per cent of Nigerians have stake in education, either as school owners, teachers or parents who have their children in school, so there is need for the specialized bank.
While addressing pressmen at the launch of the bank, in Lagos, she said: “Edfin is the first specialized education finance bank in Nigeria. We finance the education eco-system, by that, we mean people who own schools, teachers or principals. We give financial service and value-added services so that schools can grow.
“80 per cent of Nigerians have a stake in education, it could be that you run a school or you have a child in school, so we hope that if everybody is educated we would realize human potential. “If you fund education, you are touching all sectors of the economy, Two-thirds of Nigerians send their children to private schools.
According to her, the public school system is inadequate to meet the growing population so the private sector has a role to play to ensure that everybody is educated.
The Chairman, Edfin MfB, Mr. Paul Dileo, said that out of 12 countries that were picked for education finance, Nigeria was picked, and Lagos became the top choice for the initiative after meeting the criteria of Graymatters Capital that invested into the bank as major shareholders.
An educationalist, Mary James speaking on the financing of the education sector, advised that the State and non-state actors should improve their performances.
She added that the federal and state governments need to invest in creating a reliable and sustainable education database to improve planning and management.
“Other conditions should include the release of funds in tranches to match achievement of preset access and quality targets and the provision of state governments’ counterpart funding from their own resources. States that fail to meet standards over time should return their funding to the federal pool and receive a special assistance package for supervised capacity building. Finally, donor resources would best support capacity building to improve governance – especially in the creation of a reliable and sustainable database and in improving financial accountability, including routine tracking of expenditure.
Also, the Coordinator of Ports Bridge Education service Ltd, Dr Stella Ozigi-Adagiria has tasked the federal government to invest more in teachers training and development to enhance the teaching and learning process.
She clamored for collaboration between public and private sector in order to bridge the gap between learning and teaching to be able to compete with the 21st century model.
According to her, training of teachers will enable teachers develop themselves because they can’t give what they don’t have.
Her words, ’’The main key of this conference is to see how we can bridge the gap between different levels of educational sector for examples in the private sector which were we focus on, there are a lot of challenges there, there are schools that don’t have the opportunity to actually grow.
Our main aim is to see how we can encourage collaborations among schools so that we can bridge the learning gap and teaching gap. We intend to grow the quality even in the public sectors where the education is almost like a failed system, because they are under resourced and they don’t have good qualify teachers, there is a way the private sector can strengthen that varies so we are looking for group of people which can support the government schools and less privilege schools that is what our training does we provide training for managements, education personnel, teachers, opportunities for children to develop their selves in entrepreneur in the 21st century.
“With this we are providing children’s that are not going to look for jobs because they have the ideas and knowledge, they can actually create jobs with the skills acquired and we are doing this with collaborating with different organization.
However, a World Bank senior education special, Tunde Adekola stressed that there should be value added, which can only be given by teachers.
“The World Bank is interested in the teaching and learning process which is the core of education itself, we should be able to support those that are moving education forward. The issue of teaching and learning is very act in Nigeria, Africa and all over the world when are having learning crisis. We should continue to dialogue because effort has been into bringing more children to schools. We want to make education more inclusive.
“Going to school is not important than children completing school, while completion and progressing is not important like learning itself. There should be value added for schooling, the value addition can only come from teachers.
“We need a coalition; we need partnership between all different levels of government that are responsible for learning. We need for everybody to come on board.
“We have to commend the organizers and the topic is the really captivating rethinking teaching and learning, this has to do with how to improve education body and it’s not about strategy the government needs to provide every resources to put everything in place. The World Bank and government have to work together to make things easy,’’ he said.