Financing the education sector in Nigeria has to do with the allocation, and effective use of resources garnered from both internal and external sources. The state of education in Nigeria remains poor and disappointing after all these years. This can be traced to many issues including poor financing of the education sector.
This article writes on the problems of financing education in Nigeria. What are the reasons for the financial troubles the education sector faces, year in and year out in Nigeria?
Problems of Financing Education in Nigeria
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Unclear delineation of intergovernmental roles
There is no clear definition of roles among the different levels of government. This has been a major obstacle in the financing of the educational sector. State governments are officially mandated to oversee primary education but they often fail to allocate resources for this purpose. Sometimes, the local government handles this responsibility from local governments’ (LGs) funds.
Financial accountability issues
The lack of accountability amongst the levels of government is another problem of the financing of the educational sector. When the government is not answerable or held responsible for the money owed to the sector and has gotten away with various lapses over the years. Over the years, funding for basic education has come majorly from the federal and local governments. The state governments have often prioritized tertiary education and relied on local governments’ resources to fund primary education. The lack of accountability with the state government leads to inefficient use of financial resources.
Lack of coordination among government
Due to the lack of coordination with the government, this leads to ineffective use of funds donated by external organizations to the education sector in Nigeria.
Inadequate statistical data
The lack of accurate data is an obstacle that hinders making good policies in Nigeria. In Nigeria, there are swindling figures on the number of children in primary schools nationwide and the number of children out of school. With no evidence-based research, the government and bodies in charge of education have little or no direction on what steps to take to better the education sector. For example, you cannot build schools without knowing how many children need to be enrolled. In fact, because of inaccurate data, funds released for a particular project can be inadequate for its implementation. There is a close link between statistical data and the solutions to education problems in Nigeria.
In Nigeria, whenever a new government comes into power, they change whatever policies and programs they met in place. This leads to incomplete projects, waste of resources. Change in policies also affects the financing and smooth running of the educational sector.
The first and major challenge of the education system in Nigeria is inadequate funding by the different levels of governments. This has been identified to be the primary reason for the set back in the education sector. The issue of poor funding has led to frequent strikes, especially in Tertiary institutions since the 1990s. The Federal government’s allocation to the education sector has always been meagre. In 2016, of the year’s budget of N6.061 trillion, only N369.6 billion (6.10%) was allocated to education. This was the second-worst allocation to education in 10 years. In 2017, there was a slight increase to 7.38%, in 2018, the education sector was allocated 7.03% of the N8.612 trillion approved. The Academic Union have embarked on various strike to put pressure on the Federal government to increase budget allocation to education. This, apart from the fact that the budgetary allocation is such a wide gap with respect to the UN recommendation. University authorities have often protested poor funding of universities and the failure to improve facilities and enhance staff welfare at the institutions. Poor funding is what causes the poor conditions of service and welfare in all levels of education; Primary, Secondary, and University. In 2020, only 6.7% of the national budget was allocated to education. A UNESCO report recommends that 15% to 20% of the government’s budget be allocated to education.
Lack of Political Commitment
The attitude of those in government towards the educational sector has shown a lack of willingness and commitment to better the sector. The government is usually lackadaisical towards crucial problems such as funding of the sector. Often times, the government has to be pressured to review long-standing policies and agreements regarding the finances of the education sector. Even upon review, there has often been a lack of commitment to the parts of the government to seeing the implementation of these policies.
Corruption is another root cause of poor financing in the educational sector. From the point of release of funds to the use of these funds in the actualization of projects, these processes are plagued with corrupt practices. Many government officials in the educational sector acquire money to serve their personal interests while some lawmakers are reluctant to pass budgets on policies if they have not been bribed. Funds meant for the remuneration of staff and maintenance of infrastructures in the sector are mismanaged by those in charge. Corruption and mismanagement of funds cut across all levels of government and those in charge of the education sector themselves.
Politicization of Education
Government officials regard the education sector has a tool for competition. The government especially at the state level attempt to run many educational institutions than they can afford. They also use the sector has a money-making machine. For example, state governments give accreditation to many private schools that are not up to standard, just so they can make more revenue for their personal pockets.
Poor governance in the education sector is another reason for its poor financing. Often times, the bodies in charge of the education sector are not properly governed to ensure that they carry out their roles effectively. This leads to mismanagement of funds and the ineffective use of the little funds obtained. This is another reason for the poor performance of the education sector.
One will find that the problems of financing the education sector in Nigeria can be solved through discipline, strict governance and honesty.