Primary education remains worrisome in Nigeria0
A non-government organization, Human Development Initiatives (HDI) in collaboration with other partners, have kicked off a project on improving and enhancing governance and accountability for quality, effective and accessible primary and junior secondary education at the Local Government in Nigeria relative to Universal Basic Education (UBE) statutory and policy framework.
The project supported by USAID Strengthening Advocacy and Civic Engagement Project, is scheduled to run from 2014 to 2019 in Kano State (Gwale LGA and Garun Mallam LGA); Enugu State (Enugu North LGA and Nkanu West LGA); Lagos State (Lagos Mainland LGA and Ibeju-Lekki LGA); and Federal Capital Territory, Abuja (Bwari Area Council and Abuja Municipal Council).
According to the Chairman, Board of Trustees of HDI, Prof. Sarah Oloko, the project is needful because despite the intent of the UBE, its effectiveness remains worrisome in the country. She said this is attributed to a number of factors which include: weak governance structure, corruption, inadequate funding, inadequate and non-functional educational facilities – physical structures, inadequate and low quality of teachers, inadequate instructional materials, unwillingness and inability of the states and local governments to fund and monitor primary education, weak CSOs and community stakeholders engagement in education-related issues, non-adherence to key universal Principle of Local Governance/Government among others.
“Where infrastructure is available, they are grossly insufficient. Children lack books and learning aids. They sometimes go to school with their own chairs and desks, or sit on bare floor even in un-conducive school buildings for learning. Sundry fees and levies are charged by school authorities thereby negating the Government policy of compulsory and free education. Media and development reports have situated the worst schools at primary education level and the highest out-of-school children to be from Nigeria. According to UNICEF, 40 per cent of Nigerian children (mostly girls) aged 6-11 years do not attend any primary school. Most of these are in Northern Nigeria, a situation heightened by the recent insecurity in the region. 30% of pupils drop out of primary school and only 54 per cent make it to Junior Secondary Schools. Thus, children are denied the right to education, especially the girl child for whom primary education is critical,” she said.
She stressed that as a result of the obvious shortcomings, “products of primary and junior secondary schools in Nigeria are poorly trained and can hardly compete with pears from other countries. Besides the persistent poor result from WAEC, NECO and JAMB testifies to this weak foundation”.
The Research and Programme Officer, Mr. Samuel Olayemi added that the implementing partners have adopted the tripod strategy of Capacity Building, Engagement and Public Awareness, stressing that it is aimed at promoting society and citizen engagement to ensure improved accountability and governance at the LG level, especially as it affects the education sector.
“A number of activities have been carried out so far in this regard, notably: advocacy visits to Local Government Education Authorities (LGEAs) in Mainland and Ibeju-Lekki Local Government Areas of Lagos State and Gwale and Garun Mallam Local Government Areas of Kano State; sensitization and awareness for community stakeholders on governance issues affecting basic education, baseline survey on governance and accountability for quality and accessible primary and junior secondary education in Nigeria,” he said.
The partners are Grassroots Health Organization of Nigeria (GHON), Youth Child Support Initiative (YCSI), Patriotic Citizen Initiatives (PCI), The WellBeing Foundation Africa (WBFA) and Out-of-School Children Empowerment Foundation (OSCEF)