Hopes, doubts over sector’s prospects in 2019Education Minister, Adamu Adamu
Discussing the way forward for the country’s education sector in 2019, being an election year, and Nigerian undergraduates sitting idle at home for over two months now with their teachers threatening fire and brimstone, was a tough one for many stakeholders. Notwithstanding, stakeholders say all hope is not lost. UJUNWA ATUEYI writes.
With 2019 as a general election year, coupled with the current industrial action by university teachers, there are fears and doubts about what government could achieve in the New Year as far as public education is concerned.It was really difficult for stakeholders to express their wishes and discuss how to fix the sector in the New Year following all that has played out in the out-gone year, even up till now. Everyone seems to be exhausted discussing same issue over the years without tangible results.
But the situation many contend is still redeemable if only government would demonstrate great commitment and match words with action in revitalising the country’s ailing education sector.The consistent poor budgetary allocations to the sector and the fact that several recommendations made over the years by experts were not implemented, worries many Nigerians. Hitherto, the sector is yet to witness stellar ratings.
From the estimation presented by President Muhammadu Buhari at the National Assembly in Abuja, the Federal Ministry of Education has been allocated 5.71 per cent of the 2019 budget by the Nigerian government. Of the total N8.83 trillion budget, the education ministry is proposed to have N462.24 billion as its share.Asides poor allocations, lack of qualified manpower, teaching and learning aids, decayed infrastructure, poor policy implementation, among others, rank highest on the list of factors that aid and abet the malaise in the sector.
These factors, many argued, are hurting the nation’s education, which is the bedrock of national development. Since a literate population is the pivot around which democracy revolves, education, they said, must be rightly placed.However, whether the sitting government remains in power or not, experts say there should be a renewed effort in tackling all the challenges confronting education and move it out of its gory state.
Former Vice Chancellor of Caleb University, Prof. Ayodeji Olukoju, who expressed hope for the sector, said change could only happen when government is ready to revamp the system.On what should be prioritised, Olukoju said there should be a renewed focus on technical education on the German model; skills acquisition in the artisan trades, especially plumbing, automobile electronic and electrical sections; massive open and distance learning education on South African model; moratorium on licensing of universities; rationalisation of all tertiary institutions with facility; staffing and funding benchmarks; declaration of emergency in primary and secondary education sector to raise literacy and numeracy studies.
If all these are effectively implemented, he said, the nation would begin to witness and reap the dividends of education.Echoing Olukoju’s view, a distinguished professor at University of Lagos, Prof. Oye Ibidapo-Obe, called for a totally new revamping and a fundamental change that will restore the place of education in nation-building.“A total no to all the strike and negotiation; poor infrastructure that is leading to increasing number of out-of-school children. Honestly, the menace of out-of-school children brings no attraction to the country, and it has to be eliminated totally. But we need a strong leadership that understands that there is a need to do all these. I don’t think we need to go on strike to be able to achieve the objectives of public education. That should not happen in a country like Nigeria with all its natural and human possession.
“So, government and all the people involved in governance should eliminate those attitudes that have brought us to this rather sorry state beca