Obviously, the current state of the education in Nigeria is not enviable. It’s low in quality and standard, limited in its reach and disturbing in its future. Even though the benefits of education are wide, it’s widely acknowledged that education has social, economic, political, and security benefits for an individual, for a society and for a country: Education is almost everywhere considered as the key to economic prosperity and a vital instrument for combating disease, tackling poverty, and supporting sustainable development.
The fall in education standard in Nigeria is not unconnected to poor government spending on Nigerian institutions and excessive spending on foreign schooling. Apparently, the budgetary allocation to education sector in Nigeria has been inadequate to meet the demand of the sector. According to Ese, theoretic and empirical evidences support the prime role of public education expenditure in rapid and persistent economic growth. However, available statistics in Nigeria does not seem to support this view. An average of 5.72 per cent of public expenditure was spent on education between 1970 and 2010. This is very discouraging and of course during the same period, economic growth was not only inconsistent, but averaged 0.6 per cent.
Earlier, the chairperson of the Commonwealth Youth Council accused the Federal government of spending some hundreds of billions a year on foreign scholarship, calling for a scrap of such by the president elect, General Muhammadu Buhari. Figures show that about N27bn has been spent on foreign scholarship awards by the Tertiary Education Trust Fund, in 2011, N8.4 billion was spent on the school fees of the offspring of Nigeria diplomats. An estimated N160bn is spent on the education of Nigerians in Ghana annually. The most alarming is from the statistics of Exam Ethics International, a nongovernmental organization that puts the total spending on the education of Nigerians abroad at N1.5 trillion. With two newly approved universities, Nigeria currently has over one hundred universities and other tertiary institutions including polytechnics, colleges of education, technical schools, nursing colleges, surveying schools among others. A newspaper editorial stated that the fact that the country is spending so much on overseas education indicates that there is a viable market for education services if only determined attempts are fully made to tap into it. Thus, the government has to invest in education in a manner that will guarantee an increase in the contribution of education to the Gross Domestic Product of the country.
Government spending in public education no doubt promotes educational attainment and importantly provides more opportunities for economic growth. Nigeria can reform its education sector to have a direct effect on economic growth instead of investing in foreign economies to train Nigerians who return home to struggle in the Nigerian narrow employment system. The foreign economy is ready to accommodate Nigerians to study but unready to accommodate them for jobs. This is evident due to the lack of standard for education in Nigeria. The 2015 budget voted about N390 billion for the education sector, from afore mentioned facts and figures, more than 55% of this budget will be spent on foreign scholarship and payments of dues to Nigerians schooling abroad. A nation’s growth is determined by the standard of education, a nation cannot be more developed than its education standard. This enlightenment offers the president elect a determined need to cut government spending on foreign education and in return ameliorate Nigeria’s education standard in order to make schooling in Nigeria attractive and productive. The qualities of graduates produced in our schools go a long way in determining the productivity level of the nation’s economy. The president-elect, General Muhammadu Buhari should scrap or drastically reduce government spending on foreign scholarship and use such resources to develop Nigeria’s education system.
Rotimi is the Spokesman to Kwara State Speaker and Editor of The AGES Magazine.