The National Association of Polytechnic Students (NAPS) has rejected the seven per cent allocated to education by President Muhammadu Buhari in the 2018 Budget proposal proposal presented on Tuesday to a Joint Session of the National Assembly.
The group in a statement signed by its President, Mohammed Eneji, and the Public Relations Officer, Ijaduoye Olasunkanmi, stated that the present seven per cent falls short of the 26 per cent recommended by the United Nations.
According to NAPS, the United Nations education benchmark became necessary to assist nations to meet in the rising demands of education,
According to them, one of the reasons of the constant strikes in the education sector is because of low budgetary allocations like this.
While lamenting that the level of education of the new generation continues to drop as a result of poor funding, the group directed government to do the needful in order to nip the menace to the bud.
The statement stated: “If the older generation enjoyed free and accessible education during their time, it is going to be a crime against us who are the future of Nigeria to suffer and be faced with poor infrastructure, poor education facilities and incessant strikes by our Lecturers. This was not the intention of our forefathers and we will continue to engage the government constructively to achieve the Nigeria of our own.”
It also decried the fact that government has only succeeded in paying lips service to the welfare of the lecturers since despite the cries from different quarters on the need to increased teacher’s welfare, the federal government has only made matters worse by the meagre budget proposal.
The group lamented that despite the renewed commitment on the part of government to increase funds in the educational sector so as to mitigate the incessant ASUU strike, it is surprising to see government proposing a meagre percentage to education.
It stated: “Our university lecturers were protesting poor funding of universities and the failure of government to implement an agreement it signed in 2009 with ASUU to improve facilities and enhance staff welfare at the institutions.
“The Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities, SSANU, Non-Academic Staff Union of Universities, NASU and the National Association of Academic Technologists, NAAT, commenced a nationwide strike on September 11, although it was called off 10 days later.”
It also highlighted that the government has a lot to do than just putting more money on education as it must also try as much as possible to address the number of children that are out of school in the country.
NAPS said if this is not quickly checkmated, it will wreak havoc in the society.
It cautioned: “There are serious challenges facing the country, majorly caused by the teeming populace of unproductive and uneducated youths. The government is vividly one without a clear vision of solving problems with pragmatic and long-lasting solutions like enlightenment through qualitative education for the Youth. The level of insecurity is at an all-time high simply because of the profligacy of moral values, unemployment and poverty. We can all trace the problems that threaten the peace of our dear nation to the lack of proper education.
“Let it be known that where we do not teach our children how to get results through the pen, they would resort to the violent and all-damaging use of guns. This year alone, virtually all levels of education have experienced strike actions to the detriment of the students. Unity schools are just heading out of long time industrial action, just like universities and we can bet our lives on it that polytechnic teachers are not comfortable with the lackadaisical poise of the federal government towards the implementation of the previous agreements. They are warming up for a strike action soon.”
The group further lamented that Nigerian students spend lots of money outside the shores of the country to seek for quality education.
It warned that quality education is a right and not a privilege, giving the government 14 days ultimatum to revisit the budget or face the anger of Nigerian students across the country.
It added: “It beats our imagination to learn how much Nigerians are forced to pay to get qualitative education outside the shores of the country – over 60 billion dollars per year at the detriment of our comatose education sector.
“The children of the affluent can afford to flee the country, but the children of the masses; who are forced to live within the minimum wage of 18,000 Naira are disadvantaged. These children would not just serve as liabilities to the nation but their incompetence would stunt economic growth.
“We are very unhappy with the avid disdain for over 40 million Nigerian students. A meagre 7.04 percent of the 8.6 trillion Naira budget is an injustice to us and we reject it in totality.”
The Eagle online reports that according to UNICEF, Nigeria has about 10.5 million out-of-school children, the highest in the world.
NAPS is the umbrella body of Nigerian students studying in Nigerian Polytechnics, Monotechnics, and Colleges of Technology in Nigeria and in the Diaspora.