Stakeholders in the education sector have decried decreasing budgetary allocation by both the Federal and state governments in the face of the mushrooming of tertiary institutions across the country.
They expressed concern, particularly about the inability of the Federal Government over the years to raise its budgetary allocation to the sector in conformity with the 26 per cent recommended by the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation for developing countries like Nigeria, saying it left so much to be desired.
Looking at the trend of the budgetary allocation to education in the last nine years, the government in 2010 voted N293,427,655,563 (7.19%); 2011- N393,810,171,775 (9.32%); 2012 – N468,385,037,983 (9.86%); 2013 – N499,761,707,838 (10.15%); 2014-N494,783,130,261 (10.54%); 2015- N484,263,784,654 (10.78%); 2016 – N480,278,214,639 (7.92%); 2017 – N550,597,184,148 (7.40%); and 2018 – N605,800,080,038 (7.04%), respectively.
This year, the government only allocated seven per cent of the budget to the sector. This is said to be a pointer to the fact that the problems facing the education sector may be far from being over.
The budget has equally exposed the insincerity of government in respect of its promises
Various state governments on their part, are also accused of compounding issues regarding the establishment and funding of educational institutions in their respective states.
Findings revealed that in Ondo State, its three specialised universities, which include the Ondo State University of Science & Technology, Okitipupa; the University of Medical Sciences, Ondo and the Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba Akoko, have to share the state’s 2018 education budget of N181.42billion with all the public secondary schools in the state.
Rivers State, which also has two state-owned universities, the Rivers State University and the Ignatius Ajuru University of Education has only allocated N50billion to the education education in the state for 2018.
Similarly, Ogun State with Tai Solarin University of Education, Ijebu-Ode and Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago Iwoye, has allocated only N79billion to education for this year.
Currently, reports have it that plans are underway by the Enugu State Government to convert the famous Institute of Management and Technology, Enugu to a full-fledged university.
At present, Edo State has the Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma; School of Technology and Management Sciences, Usen; College of Agriculture, Iguoriakhi; Michael Imoudu Institute of Physical Education, Afuze; School of Health Technology, Benin City; Tayo Akpata University of Education, Ekiadolor; College of Education, Igueben; and the School of Nursing and Midwifery, Benin City. Also, the immediate past administration of Governor Adams Oshiomole in Edo State, shortly before leaving office, established the Edo University, Iyamho, in Etsako West Local Government Area of the state. All these higher educational institutions and other lower educational institutions in the state are to manage the paltry N6.3billion allocated to the sector in this year’s budget.
Benue State, which has the Benue State University; Benue State Polytechnic, Ugbokolo; College of Advanced and Professional Studies, Markurdi; College of Education, Katsina-Ala; College of Education, Oju; and the Benue State University College of Health Sciences, has not fared better.
Considering the current poor financial situation of many state governments, many of which are on the brink of distress and owing months of workers’ salaries, despite the bail out funds given to them by the Federal Government, analysts say that many of the state-owned higher institutions have become anything other than the centres of excellence they were originally meant to be, especially with their decrepit infrastructure.
The Chairman of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, Prof. Abiodun Ogunyemi, in a chat with our correspondent, decried the alleged lackadaisical attitude of government to the welfare of state-owned institutions.
Ogunyemi accused most state governors of being responsible for the deplorable state of these higher educational institutions.
“Many of the universities have been exploiting and extorting our youths and their poor parents. The state universities are the worst because their owner-governments have actually abandoned the universities and you would see that they pretend that they love the indigenes of their various states by establishing more universities.
“What is the essence of establishing universities that are not funded? The real demonstration of love for Nigerian students is not just to direct that their universities should not charge fees, but to make a policy that will commit government on what percentage of the budget must be allocated to education, and in doing that, state universities should also not be spared because they have now become centers of exploitation.
“State governors have established states universities that they are not ready to fund and by so doing, the vice chancellors and the Governing Councils in those universities have been introducing and scaling up unaffordable tuition fees, which, if care is not taken, will lead to the total collapse of education in the future.”
Speaking in the same vein, the National Coordinator, Education Rights Campaign, Comrade Hassan Taiwo, noted that the 7.04 per cent allocation to education in the 2018 budget was not acceptable.
Taiwo, therefore, demanded an upward review of budgetary allocation to education to meet the 26 per cent recommended by UNESCO.
He said, “The 2018 budget allocation indicates that a meagre amount has been earmarked again for the funding of the education sector, in spite of the widely known crises bedeviling the sector. On the surface, there appears to be a fractional increase in the education budget compared to the N550 billion earmarked for the sector in the 2017 budget. Although the N605billion allocated to the sector this year is higher in naira terms than the N550 billion allocated in 2017, there is a decrease in percentage terms.
“Against the backdrop of collapse of public education in the country, the paltry 2018 education budget would further compound the problems that students and education workers face on a daily basis on account of underfunding of public education.
“Already, managements of schools are increasing fees astronomically, and many state schools in states like Edo, Ekiti, Ondo, and some others are found wanting in this regard. Experience has shown us in some schools, where fees have been astronomically increased, that the policy of squeezing the pockets of parents dry in order to run schools is, indeed, incapable of resuscitating their moribund academic facilities.”
Continuing, he said, “The budget has equally exposed the insincerity of government in respect of its promises and this means that the government would continue to grapple with industrial actions by several unions soon, if the government fails to sufficiently increase the budget allocation to education.”
The National President of the Association of Polytechnic Students, Mohammed Eneji, also described the poor funding of schools by the government as unfair to the present generation.
Eneji said, “This is unfair to our generation and we, NAPS, are appealing to the Federal Government and all authorities involved, to revisit the budget or augment it with a supplementary budget so as to raise the standard and quality of our graduates in Nigeria.
“If the older generation has enjoyed free and accessible education during their time, it is going to be a crime for us, who are the future generation of Nigeria, to suffer and be faced with poor infrastructure, poor education facilities and incessant strike by our lecturers. This was not the intentions of our founding fathers and we will continue to engage the government constructively to achieve the Nigeria of our own.”