The Federal Ministry of Education has been allocated 7.02% of the 2019 budget by the Nigerian government.
This is based on the estimates given by President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday during the budget presentation at the National Assembly in Abuja.
It is coming at a time lecturers in Nigerian universities and polytechnics have remained on strike for six weeks and one week respectively over issues mainly related to education funding.
Stakeholders have on several occasions considered budgetary spendings on the education sector as insufficient to address the myriads of challenges associated with the sector.
Of the total N8.83 trillion budget, the education ministry is proposed to have N620.5 billion as its share.
With that amount, the Federal Ministry of Education is expected to adequately cater for the 28 parastatals as well as 37 federal universities, 25 federal polytechnics, 21 federal colleges of education and 104 federal unity schools directly under its care.
A sum of N539,689,537,187 was budgeted for personnel costs in the education ministry, N33,522,298,519 for overhead, and N47,291,333,322 for capital expenditure.
Buhari said the funding was based on his administration’s view of the ministry as one of those providing “critical public services” in the country.
Other ministries in its category are the Federal Ministry of Interior, which is proposed to get N569.07 billion, the Ministry of Health, which may get N315.62 billion and the Ministry of Defence, which may get N435.62 billion. These are subject to the approval of the Nigerian parliament.
The president said that the allocation to the ministries increased compared to previous years.
In his words, “The allocation to these Ministries represent significant increases over votes in previous budgets, underscoring our commitment to increase investment in national security and human capital development.”
Checks by EduCeleb.com particularly related to the education ministry budget proposals confirm this marginal increase.
The ministry got allocated only 7.04% or N605.8 billion in the 2018 proposal, 7.4 % or N550 billion of that of 2017 and 4% or N369.6billion in 2016.
Meanwhile, the 2019 total budget estimate is N300 billion lower than the N9.1 billion being implemented in 2018.
A broader breakdown of it given by the president indicated that N4.04 trillion or 50.31% is earmarked for recurrent expenditure and N2.03 trillion representing 22.98% is earmarked for capital projects.
N2.14 trillion is proposed to be spent on debt servicing just as N120 billion is dedicated to sinking fund, which Buhari explained was meant to “retire maturing bonds to local contractors.”
UBEC shares from N492 billion statutory transfer
Beyond the directly proposed allocation to the education ministry, the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) along with the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) are expected to share N492.36 billion as proposed statutory transfers in the 2019 fiscal year.
A breakdown of the UBEC portion of the share as obtained from the Budget Office of the Federation show that the agency under the education ministry, is being allocated N113.9 billion.
The president had in his speech projected that the funds would be higher relative to expected increase in oil revenue.
EduCeleb.com reports that UBEC as a federal agency provides intervention in compulsory, free basic education in Nigeria.
Basic education covers the six years of primary school education and the three years of the Junior Secondary School.
Catering for basic education is ordinarily the role of states through the 37 State Universal Basic Education Boards (SUBEB) as stated in the Compulsory, Free Universal Basic Education Act of 2004.
The Act, which also created UBEC made the federal agency to share the costs of financing basic education with states through counterpart funding.
It originally provides that the central government was to spend 2% of its annual budget on UBEC.
To access the funds, states were expected to provide 50% of counterpart funds to match the amount approved by the federal government each year.
A report in October by EduCeleb.com showed that 24 states were unable to fully access the funds due to inability to provide matching grants since 2015.
Back in 2017, a proposed amendment to the Act sought to increase the percentage from the budget to 3 and attempted to reduce the burden on states towards funding basic education.
The amendment process had scaled through in the Nigerian Senate but is yet to be done at the House of Representatives – meaning that the 2% still legally applies.
Below UNESCO think-tank recommendation
The 7.05% budget to the education ministry is below the recommendation for education spending for developing countries by a group within the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).
While prominent Nigerian academics like Professors Michael Omolewa, PAI Obanya and Peter Okebukola have on previous occasions told EduCeleb.com that UNESCO did not recommend that the 26% of a state’s budget should be allocated to the education sector, a document from the international agency stated that a think-tank within it proposed that between 15% to 20% of the budget was allocated to the sector.
A portion of the UNESCO’s Education for All (EFA) 2000-2015: Achievements and Challenges Report states that “In 2006, the High level Group on EFA proposed that governments should spend between four percent and six percent of GNP on education, and that, within government budgets, between 15 percent and 20 per cent should be earmaked for education.
The ongoing strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP) continue to linger on because government claims not to have funds to revitalise Nigerian universities and polytechnics in its negotiations with the higher education teachers.
It also appears that despite government’s efforts towards reducing child illiteracy, Nigeria still continues to be home to about 13.2 million out-of-school children – the highest in world, based on the revelation by a UBEC official last October.
NOTE: An earlier version of this report stated that 5.27% was allocated to the Federal Ministry of Education. That was based on the President’s budget speech, which did not specify the amount allocated to UBEC, and excluded that from the ministry’s total budget. Modifications above were after the Budget Office released details of the 2019 Appropriation Bill.