The 2010 Ibrahim Index of African Governance survey carried out by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation ranked Nigeria 40th out of 53 African countries. The survey featured 17 criteria: personal safety, rule of law, accountability, corruption, national security, human rights, gender and public management etc.
The survey which in overall scored Nigeria 43 which was below both the African and West African average of 50 should serve as a wakeup call to the Jonathan Goodluck administration about the level of insecurity that has of recent enveloped the nation from Boko Haram to Jos crisis’s, from Aba kidnapping to the independent day bombing.
We are talking about Vision 2010 yet our investment in education which is supposed to be the engine room towards the realization of this idea is nothing to write home about. We are just going around fooling ourselves.
With the opening of University of Benin in 1970 there were then six Universities in Nigeria – Ibadan, Lagos Ahamadu Bello, Ife and Nsukka. If you look at the level of educational awareness and our population then you will discover that with the presenting level of educational awareness and a population of 150 million people, our past leaders have not been making the necessary required investment in education. Take for instance, as of 1971 the six universities had a total enrolment of 16,000 students, over nine – tenths total whom lived in university hostels.
The beauty of it all was that the then Nigerian leaders attached considerable importance to the education of their people. Take instance in 1962 alone the budget for education was 41.7 million pounds, which was more than fourfold increase within ten years. Of the 41.7 million pounds less than 4 million pounds came from external aid. In relative terms total educational expenditure for all levels of formal education in Nigeria then claimed a growing share of Gross Domestic Product. While the G.D.P. yearly doubled between 1952 and 1962 expenditure for education increased more than twice as fast as GDP, so that its estimated share of GDP grew from about 1.6 per cent in 1952 to over 3.5 per cent in 1962. This trend continued till the late 70’s when education claimed nearly 4 per cent of G.D.P. You will appreciate the value of 41.7million pounds then when you realize that in 1966, federal government spending totaled 491million pounds.
The situation has drastically changed today, the Federal Government invested 11.3 per cent in 1999, 5.90 per cent in 2002, all these falls far below the 26 per cent recommended by United Nation. Going by that statistic one will discover that at 0.76 per cent GDP on education, we are investing far less in education than South Africa 7.9 per cent, Kenya 6.5 per cent, Malawi 5.4 percent, Angola 4.9 per cent, Ghana 4.4 per cent and Tanzania 3.4 per cent GDP in education.
That was when Nigeria was at the fore front pioneering educational upliftment in Africa. Unfortunately, today, on the list of the 100 best Universities in Africa, only five Nigerian Universities are mentioned in the 31 th, 35th, 37 th , 45th and 87th positions. While South Africa alone produced the first 4, with 23 others nominated in the A-List. Not only that, South Africa produced 7 on the list of the top 10.
Today, investments into our educational system by both tiers of government and external donors does not represent even I per cent of our G.D.P. Like Punch Newspaper Wednesday, July 28, page 14 Editorial revealed, each year thousands of candidates who passed the JAMB entrance examination cannot be admitted because there are not enough spaces in our universities. According to Prof. Dibu Ojerinde, the JAMB Registrar, about 340, 000 out of the 867, 000 candidates who met the cut-off point in the recent Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination-UME will not be admitted to any of the nation’s institutions this year, as a result of ‘’limited spaces’’
Until this year’s increase in admission space by the National Universities Commission there were less than 200, 000 spaces in all Nigerian universities while about one million applicants have been writing the UME annually for years. This year’s 245, 000 increase is less than a quarter of the annual demand.
In 2005/06, out of 916, 371 applicants that sought admission to the nation’s universities, only 76, 984 or 8.4 per cent were admitted. In 06/07, out of 803, 472 that sought admission, only 88, 524 or 11.1 per cent were successful while in 2007/08, of the 911, 653 that applied, only 107, 370 or 11.8 per cent were admitted.
Education authorities reckon that, by 2012 when the first set of the Universal Basic Education beneficiaries will be ripe for university admission, over three million students will be writing the UME. The figure would have been far higher but for the fact that only about 30 per cent proceeded to Junior Secondary School out of the 12million pupils that enrolled in primary schools in 1999.
Statistics from NUC revealed that between 1977/1988 and 1997/1998 when system enrolment surged by 12 percent annually, staffing grew at just 3 per cent a year. During this decade, total academic staff increased from 9, 612 to 13, 515 and total student enrolment doubled from 130, 731 to 267, 730.
A conference convened by the University of Nigeria in February1961 financed by the Carnegie Corporation of New York and made up of a cross section of Nigeria school principals, professors, government education officers and voluntary agencies discussed ‘Teachers education in Nigerian’. It agreed that a degree plus a nine – month diploma course was an unsatisfactory method for preparing graduate teachers and that many of the teachers so produced lacked dedication and professional aptitude and were only interested in teaching as a stepping-stone to something to something else. The conference recommended, inter alia, a three – year Bachelor of Arts and Science combined honours degrees in Education that is a B.S.C (Education). The programme was launched at Nsukka in September 1961 with fifty students. Thus, Nsukka was the first to break with the old tradition in teacher – education. The first batch of students graduated in June 1964. Between 1961and 1966 Nsukka produced 210 graduate teachers with B. A and B. S.C (Education) degrees.
All these boils down to one fact, our educational system needs a radical upliftment in funding, but the most important thing is visionary and honest leaders to spearhead this noble call.
Dr. Sam Egwu another former minister of education shares similar opinion in an interview with me published on Daily Sun of Friday, July 16, he pointed out that lack of infrastructural development has been one of the major factors that is drawing educational standard backward in Nigeria, Quoting him “The reason was problems with our basic infrastructure, because the facilities we started with so many years ago when the population was few is still what we are depending on and using till date. And so much pressure is being placed on these facilities that they can no longer carry the system”.
Once other area where he shared similar opinion with the Mo Ibrahim survey also is in the area of manpower development, hear him; “If you come to teachers education too, we also found out that the quality of teachers has actually depreciated to a very great extent. Most of them are not suppose to be teaching, but they took the teaching as a last resort after looking for jobs. As a result, there was no training, training was lacking. The level of training required of a teacher was not being gradually upgraded in terms of teaching or re-training.”
The first executive governor of Ebonyi State, who established the Ebonyi State University and made free education his no 1 priority while in government went on to point out ‘’As a matter of fact I am of the opinion that teachers should be the highest paid civil servants in the country. Situations were political appointees and elected officials earn more than teacher Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless handheld from Glo Mobile.