If we can’t fund education as a weapon, we can’t win battle
Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world” – Nelson Mandela
How can we experience breakthrough as a country, if the tool that can be used is in comatose state? This is a question that pops out of an average Nigerian student every time the abysmal state of the education sector in Nigeria is the focal point of any intellectual discourse.
Going by the tenets and recommendations of the United Nations, which are expedient for any country that desires growth, 26% of a country’s annual budget should be expended on Education. This is not because of its every day’s effects on all sectors but because it yields an everlasting dividends.
It no longer rings any bell, knowing fully well that the highest Nigeria has achieved ever is 10.43% in 2006. Even the minute allocations are not judiciously spent. Little wonder why the Nigerian Universities Commission (NUC) budgeted 85 million naira for Vehicles, while 8 million naira is for Research. Which is more important?
Strike actions from different unions of workers in the Education sector have been the headlines in our dallies for the past few months and no proactive step has been taken by the Federal Government. They wait for protests and demonstrations before any action is taken. Protests at the expense of the academics of our future leaders!
Recently, a research shows that about 70% percent of Nigerian students apply for scholarships to study abroad. Most apply to Canada, Malaysia, United States of America. While some spend over 26% of their Gross Domestic Profit (GDP), others expend nothing less than the recommended to improve education annually. These countries value this weapon called education, which is a major factor behind the gap between the socio-economic development and technological advancement of ours in comparison to theirs.
Moreover, many problems have eaten deep in the system, ranging from infrastructural challenges in terms of the poor state of lecture theatres, hostels, and other facilities, to the lack of some equipment needed for effective learning such as projectors, laboratory equipment, etc. Where lies the future if not in the hands of the educated? It all boils down to the under funding of this critical sector.
Against the agenda of mass education, quality education is no longer accessible by the sons and the daughters of an average man but those in the rich and probably the ruling class. Being provided by private organisations, it’s far expensive compared to the fees structure of Federal University. Based on a recent study, the tuition fees for the cheapest of the private owned institution is 250% higher than that of the most expensive public university. I’m afraid If this trend continues, the implications will not be felt only in this generation but also the ones to come.
It’s so appalling that no Nigerian university made it to the first 326 positions in the 2017 webometrics ranking of World universities. With these anomalies, we will always lag behind in international rankings.
The only way an headway can be certain is if Education can be properly funded. There will more highly equipped centre of learning, more funds for research and productive learning that will produce results in all sectors of the nation will be carried out.
If this weapon is not adequately funded for usage, other nations would use it against us and that is the brain behind imperialism and neo-colonialism.
Olufemi Alfred is a campus journalist from Obafemi Awolowo University. He is best reached via firstname.lastname@example.org