Worrisome statistics about education in Nigeria

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Today marks the International Day for Education, as declared by the United Nations. It is the first time such an international observance is being marked.

With a focus on how to make the world a better place for everyone through education, this day reminds us of how we have fared in the education sector.

In this post, EduCeleb.com presents you some statistics about the state of education in Nigeria.

Highest number of out-of-school children in the world

Of the 262 million children out of school children in the world, a majority of them totalling 13.2 million are in Nigeria. These are children who either never enrolled or did not complete primary school education.

According to the Demographic Health Survey (DHS) jointly conducted by the United Nations International Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in collaboration with agencies of the Nigerian government in 2015, the number increased from 10.5 million to its current figure as a result of various insecurity challenges in the country.

The Executive Secretary of the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), Hamid Bobboyi said the situation had hampered socio-economic growth in the country, since the children affected do not benefit from educational programmes put in place for them.

“If you add the number of children that have been displaced and the increasing number of birth, you find out that our source in DHS conducted by UNICEF published in 2015 reveals the number of out of school children increased to 13.2 million,” he said.

“Over the last few years, Nigeria has been besieged by Boko Haram and lots of children have been put out of school.

“This is equally affecting the implementation of some education treaties that Nigeria is a signatory to.”

51% of children engage in child labour

Child labour is still a major challenge in Nigeria. According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) 2017 Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS), about 50.8 per cent of Nigerian children, ages between five and 17, are involved in child labour.

The NBS conducted the survey in conjunction with other partners, including the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) and UNICEF.

Child labour refers to “work that is mentally, physically, socially or morally dangerous and harmful to children and deprives them of opportunities for schooling and development.”

Of the children population by region, the North-Central region has the highest burden of child labour of 56.8 per cent followed by the North-West accounting for 55.1 per cent.

South- South has 48.7 per cent; South-East 46.6 per cent, and South-West 38 per cent, respectively.

UNICEF’s Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist in Nigeria, Mrs. Maureen Zubie-Okolo, described the situation as worrisome increasing the likelihood of the children engaging in crime.

“The high level of diverse and tedious jobs that children execute in dangerous circumstances is particularly worrying.

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“These jobs include being street vendors, beggars, car washers or watchers and shoe shiners.

“Others work as apprentice mechanics, hairdressers and bus conductors, while a large number work as domestic servants and farm hands.

“These children who work suffer from fatigue, irregular attendance at school, lack of comprehension and motivation, improper socialisation, exposure to risk of sexual abuse, high likelihood of being involved in crime.”

2 in 3 children don’t have access to early childhood education

Data from the 2017 MICS also shows that most children lack access to early childhood education.

Only one out of three children attends organized early childhood education programme in Nigeria, with more children in Southern regions than the Northern parts.

The data also showed limited involvement of adults in activities that promote learning.

“About two-thirds (62.8 percent) of the children have an adult household member engage them on four or more activities that promote learning and school readiness.

“Involvement of biological father and mother in activities that support early learning is as low as 10.8 percent and 28.1 percent respectively.”

Also, three in 5 children age 36-59 months are developmentally on track in at least three of the four early childhood development domains.

One third of children were left with inadequate care either by being left alone or in the care of another child.

Most children lack access to books in their households

Only 5.6 percent of the children involved in the survey live in households where there are at least 3 children’s books accessible to the child, the MISC also revealed.

This is despite continuous claims by UBEC that it had achieved the one-book-per-child drive across Nigerian public schools.

49% proceed to secondary school

While the primary school completion rate in Nigeria is 63 percent, only 49% transit to secondary school.

This implies that six in 10 children of primary completion age of 11 years are in the last grade of primary education.

Gender parity for primary school is 1.00, indicating no difference in the attendance of girls and boys in primary school. It is however, 0.97 for secondary school.

Over 30% are illiterates

Over 30% of Nigeria’s population can neither read nor write. This is according to education minister, Adamu Adamu.

He was quoted by Premium Times as disclosing this at Nigeria’s Annual Education Conference in 2017.

But the national literacy rate is 65.1 percent, according to data published in the Digest of Education Statistics of the Ministry of Education. Of these, we have 59.3 percent of women and 79.9 percent of men who can read and write.

The data was arrived at using young adults between age 15-24.

The rate is very low among young women and men in Niger, Bauchi, Gombe, Yobe, Jigawa, Katsina, Kebbi, Sokoto and Zamfara, which are all in the Northern region of Nigeria.

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The Minister believed that consolidated efforts targeted at areas where there are challenges with literacy would be the way forward.

“The most expedient approach is through selective, intensive and nationwide on-going campaign against illiteracy, targeting states and groups that have the highest levels of illiteracy, with girls and women as the main target.”

12 states owing teachers salaries

According to a 2018 report by civic organisation, BudgIT, up to 12 states were not able to pay teachers their salaries. That’s was as at the last quarter of the year.

In some cases, the teachers are owed up to 30 months. There are also cases of pensioners being owed.

Such incidences impede teachers’ productivity and affect the quality of their work within and outside the classroom.

Most Northern states abandoned the Almajiri Education Programme

The Almajiri Education Programme is an initiative of the President Goodluck Jonathan administration started in 2009. It led to the building and equipment of the 157 Almajiri Model Schools across Nigeria.

The Almajiri constitute about 9 million of Nigeria’s out of school children. They are itinerary children whose parents left in the hands of local Arabic teachers called Mallam.

Most of them fend for themselves from as young as age five. They beg, and serve as child labourers in communities always far away from their homes. There have been reports that some of them engage in criminal actions to fend for themselves.

Several media reports have shown that the model schools that could have reduced the Almajiri menace have been abandoned to rot away. After their completion, the schools were handed over to state governments to manage, according to UBEC.

EduCeleb.com visited a cross section of them in northwestern Nigeria where varying degrees of abandonment, destruction, and disregard for the original purpose of the AEP had been defeated.

Where they were in operation, the schools were not serving the Almajiri children. In other cases, the traditional Almajiri system is not being integrated with the Western education system.

Whereas some schools were already overgrown with grass raising fears that the out-of-school children may not be decreasing anytime soon in the country.

With the exception of Kaduna, Kano and Sokoto states, there is no evident government will to sustain the programme in other states.

Also, the Jonathan administration intended to build over 400 Almajiri Model Schools. There have been no direct effort under the current federal government to build more schools or hold state governments abandoning existing ones accountable.

Relatively low education funding

At the national level, education is still largely underfunded. The Ministry of Education which mainly pilots the affairs of the sector in Nigeria has not be allocated up to 8 percent of the national annual budget in over ten years.

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Whereas, other government ministries also have funding related to education, we depend on that of the education ministry in this context. Also, actual government spendings on education may not necessarily be equal to its budgetary provision in Nigeria.

Whereas, despite the availability of funds, EduCeleb.com reported that 24 of Nigeria’s 36 states were unable to access the counterpart funding for basic education in 2017.

The report sourced from UBEC as at the fourth quarter of 2018 suggests that the states may not be funding education as they should.

The 2019 National Budget currently before the National Assembly has just 7.02 percent of it devoted to the education ministry. It should be stated that each state in Nigeria has a separate budget not put into perspective here.

For three years earlier, there was a little difference. The ministry got allocated only 7.04 percent in the 2018 proposal, 7.4 percent of that of 2017 and 4 percent of the 2016 budget.

This situation is contrary to the recommendation in a report by a group within the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) that between 15 and 20 percent of a nation’s budget should go to education.

Commenting on the low allocation to education, a professor at the University of Ibadan, Tunji Olaopa told EduCeleb.com that a government’s spending is a product of how much it prioritises education.

“The percentage of a nation’s wealth that would go into education go into education is a reflection of seriousness of the leadership,” he said.

Professor Olaopa also cautioned that in an attempt to spend more on education, other sectors may suffer. He called for creative solutions beyond the little funds available to solve the problem of education finance.

In his words, “Also, that is contingent on how much is available and how much is going into other things.

“Even if you put 20-25 percent into education, and you are churning out more qualified youths, if the infrastructure is not developed, there would be problem. If there is lack of health facilities or water supply is not okay, there will be problems. If the economy is not diversified, that’s a problem.

“So, it has to be an holistic approach. The only stage a nation can reach and say it is benchmarking 20 percent is when it has sorted the fundamentals (in other aspects of life).

“Even if you put the entire national budget on education, it would not be adequate. You need creative thinking and planning for the challenges with education to be solved. This can be applied to other aspects of our national life. It is a product of leadership. You use the little you have to connect other resources and get more results.”

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