Stakeholders say 2016 Budget allocation is the lowest in three years
By Sam Otti
Observers have pointed out that the amount of money allotted to the education sector in the 2016 Budget seems to be the poorest in the past three years, something they attribute to the falling oil prices in the world market, oil being the main source of the country’s revenue.
A look at records lends some credence to the observation. In 2011, the sector was allotted N306.3bn, N400.15bn in 2012, N426.53bn in 2013, N493bn in 2014, N492bn in 2015 but N403.16bn in 2016. Prof. Sherifdeen Tella, former Vice Chancellor, Crescent University, Abeokuta, Ogun State would want the Buhari administration to increase its spending on education in the next few years. “When the expected improvement start manifesting, government will spend less thereafter. China is great because of the high level of literacy there.” It would also want the administration to monitor its spending diligently to ensure that it is being used judiciously to execute pre-planned projects and programmes.
“When the government allocates money to the sector, it should also set up a transparent monitoring and evaluation process,” he advised. “In Nigeria, the tradition is to throw money up without bothering where it eventually lands. That is why huge sums of money allocated to various sectors during the last administration were misused. The government should be able to monitor the utilization of the money allocated to education sector to know whether it achieved the desired result.”
Enactment of new bills and agreements
Prof. Ibrahim Kolo, former Vice Chancellor, Ibrahim Babangida University, Lapai, Niger State, believes the enactment of relevant bills remain crucial for safeguarding commensurate and sustainable funding of the nation’s education sector.
“Recent pronouncement by Distinguished Senator Binta Garba Masi (the Senate Committee Chairperson for Tertiary Education and TETFund) that a review of legislations governing the tertiary education sector in Nigeria was in the offing came as most welcome initiative required for fundamental changes which have long been overdue for sustainable and impact-oriented outcomes from the country’s tertiary education institutions”, he noted.
Senator Garba was quoted as saying that the reviews would focus on strengthening legislations and regulations, which have worked, and revising those that have not worked from past experiences.
Kolo stressed that if the exercise comes through by concentrating on redressing the contemporary fundamental challenges besetting the tertiary education sector in Nigeria, it will be the most revolutionary step taken since independence in 1960 towards reforming higher education and institutions of learning.
Prof. A.O.U. Onuka, Senior Research Fellow, Institute of Education, University of Ibadan, would want Buhari administration to set up think tanks to “study past agreements of ASUU with government and implement the solutions proffered in them. The administration must reform the sector by streamlining and overhauling the regulatory agencies and other parastatals in the sector, inject requisite fund in the system, overhaul the public preschool, basic and secondary education sub-sectors. Requisite infrastructures should be put in place at all levels of public education sector. Teachers, who are nation builders, must be properly developed, remunerated and encouraged to stay in the profession at all levels in the sector. Their take home pay must take them home. Their tax burden must be made minimal.”