Poor policy implementation: A setback to education in Nigeria

Various definitions abound for the concept of implementation. In this case, we depend on Egonmwan’s conceptualisation of it as the process of converting financial, material, technical and human inputs into outputs – goods and services. It also involves a wide variety of actions such as issuing and enforcing directives, disbursing funds, making loans available, assigning and hiring personnel, etc. for a desired result.

Implementation problem arises when the desired results, goals, aim and objectives on the target beneficiaries are not achieved. Policy implementation in Nigeria cuts across every sector and facet of government. The crux of this article is how the poor implementation of policies and projects affects education in Nigeria.

Policy provisions and poor implementation

Poor implementation of policies and projects is not a new phenomenon in Nigeria. The cankerworm found its way into the Nigerian system in the early times of the second republic, specifically in 1979, when vices such as electoral violence, acts of corruption and others became evident.

The Education sector is one that has suffered poor implementation of various global, federal and state government policies and projects. The National Policy on Education is government’s way of executing that part of the national goals which education can be used as a tool to achieve.

Below are some of the current elements of the policy on education in Nigeria with an analysis of how they play out.

Poor budgetary allocation

“Education would continue to rank high in the nation’s development plans. Education is the most important instrument of change and any fundamental change in the social and intellectual outlook of any society has to be preceded by education.”

In 2017, about 7 percent of the N7.30 trillion budget was allocated to education. Also in 2018, the federal government allocated only 7.04% of the 8.6 trillion 2018 budget to education, thereby giving little or no room for improvement in the sector.

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All these are pointers to the fact that poor implementation is bedeviling the education sector. If education is truly the most important instrument of change for a better society, then no amount should be too much to invest in such a sector.

Poor reading culture

“The national educational system shall be structured to develop the practice of self-learning. Government shall in this regard continue to encourage the establishment of Young Readers Clubs in schools.”

As good and productive as this notion is, in how many of our schools do we have Young Readers Club? Do the teachers encourage it? Since you cannot give what you don’t have, do the teachers even engage in self-development through reading?

How many of our schools have a well equipped modern library? How often does the government update the libraries if they exist at all? These are vital questions that all boil down to poor implementation.

Teaching techniques

“At all levels of the education system, modern education techniques shall be increasingly used and would also be improved upon.”

It is very disheartening to find a bulk of incompetent teachers in Nigerian educational system. Tutors who cannot adapt to the current waves of technology in teaching and learning process.

This kind of policy will surely be met with poor implementation because some graduate teachers cannot even write a simple letter of application, let alone speak good English. How then would they use modern techniques in teaching?

An example of this is the face off between the Kaduna state government and the state teachers under the aiegies of the Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT).

Elusive Universal Basic Education

“Depending on needs and possibilities, Universal Basic Education (UBE) shall be provided in a variety of forms for all citizens.”

Without any arguments, and considering the number of out of school children, this particular education policy resides in the hub of poor implementation. About 13 million school aged Nigerian children are currently not in school due to no cause of theirs but the lack of will on the part of government to guarantee such.

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Language of instruction question

It is also stated in the language policy section that the major Nigerian languages shall be the language of teaching and learning in the basic schools as it has been tested and proven to yield better output from the pupils, but today the same languages are regarded as vernacular in schools and students are punished for speaking it in the school environment.

Studies like the Ìfẹ́ six years in the 80’s have shown that learning school subjects with the mother tongue could be beneficial to the child at the early years. Why are we still resistant to adopting this policy guideline?

Poor implementation and the global goals

All levels of our education system suffer poor implementation of educational projects. This is evident in the year 2000 global Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which rallied the world around a common 15-year agenda to tackle the indignity of poverty through various means, with education serving as a key strategy. The goal was to achieve universal primary education with a target that, by 2015, children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling with a reasonable and impressive rise in percentage but alas, it was not achieved due to poor implementation.

Classrooms in government schools are dilapidated, students sit on the floor as a result of inadequate chairs and desks, poor performance in SSCE is the order of the day because there are no functional science laboratories and libraries. One is forced to wonder how the funds earmarked for these projects under the MDG scheme are spent.

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Without doubt, as it has been explicated above, poor implementation of policies and projects is caused by lack of proper monitoring by the government, lackadaisical attitude of educational personnel at all levels, corruption, selfish interests over the future of the students and others.

A million thanks to the relentless visionary world leaders who again in 2015 came up with Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) with year 2030 target placing maximum importance on education.

Recently, in a bid to achieve desired results in the SDG, the Federal government through the minister of education pledged proper implementation of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) in the Education sector.

A central part of the SDG is the current intervention by the FG in Federal government colleges across the nation where repair of toilets and bathrooms facilities, provision of solar power, borehole and a whole lot of others is being carried out.

Way forward

It is of utmost importance to reiterate at this juncture that it is not enough for the government to pledge proper implementation of projects and policies. The government should set up monitoring committee in every sphere of the education sector to always check the progress of these projects from nascence to completion.

Nelson Mandela said, “It always seems impossible until it is done”. A good and productive education system is achievable only if all stakeholders would perform their roles diligently.

News Reporter
Akintunde is a proud alumnus of the Great Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife. He is engaged in various literacy and educational projects. Contact him via akintunde@educeleb.com.

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