By Favour Rotimi/Funmilayo Adeyemi
The Minister of Education, Prof. Tahir Mamman, has expressed the commitment of President Bola Tinubu to improve budget meant for education by 25 per cent with the right policies in place.
Mamman said this while declaring open the 2021 and 2022 Nigeria Annual Education Conference (NAEC) in Abuja on Monday.
The theme of the conference is tagged: “Implementation of Education 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in Nigeria”.
The minister also pledged his commitment to bridge the gaps between education policy statements and its actualisation outcomes.
He noted that the country had a lot of good policies on what was required to do in the best interest of the nation but that those policies were not bringing values to the sector.
“President Tinubu has directed the return of the 10.5million out-of-school children to school at the expiration of his tenure.
“We still have a long way to go. We are not matching the children in the country with the desired education and this is because our policies are not producing the values we need.
“What we need is the action on ground and not the policy declaration. This is where I can tell you we intend to come in.
“We want to bridge the gaps between policy statements and actualisation of outcomes.
“This is to give them future training that will enable them to live their lives and make them employers of labour. Everybody deserves to live a life of dignity for the well-being of their family,” he said.
He said that the responsibilities of government was to provide opportunities for Nigerians to be empowered adding that now is the time to make the policies reality.
He also said that the basic and secondary schools must be equipped by developing appropriate skills template for creativity and research.
“We know that society that had benefitted from education are known for nurturing of creativity and research which starts from the lower levels,” he said.
He said there was need for implementation strategies to provide mechanisms for constant monitoring and evaluation of policies, to ensure the SDG goals were achieved.
The minister expressed concern over the state of insecurity in the schools and nation at large, lamenting the recent killing of one Miss Deborah Atanda, a nursing student of Federal University, Oye-Ekiti few days ago.
He, however, directed Vice-Chancellor of the institution, in concerted efforts with the security, to uncover the perpetrators of the killing.
He charged stakeholders to work with the Federal Ministry of Education and agencies as well as State Ministries of education to identify innovative approaches for improved funding and ensuring inclusive equitable, quality education and life-long opportunities.
Meanwhile, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Education, David Adejo, explained that the 2021 and 2022 edition of the conference could not hold because of COVID-19 recovery which informed its delay till now.
Adejo, represented by the Director, Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in the ministry, Abubakar Isah, charged stakeholders to deliberate on ways of collaborating and partnership towards actualising the 2030 education agenda.
Also, the Education Adviser, Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), James O’Donoghue, pledged UK’s commitment to support Nigeria in actualising the 2030 SDG agenda and to ensure every child receive quality education.
O’Donoghue called on the Nigerian government to ensure increased funding for education while also that the money was utilise for the overall education purpose.
NAN reports that the UN suggested to the federal Government to increase its current budgetary allocation to the education sector from seven to 20 per cent in order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal 4—universal, inclusive and equitable basic education for all school-age children by 2030.
For years, Nigeria’s allocation to the education sector has been below the recommended benchmark for developing nations.
In the 2023 budget, the sector got N1.79 trillion — representing 8.2 per cent of the appropriation bill — according to Zainab Ahmed, minister of finance, budget, and national planning.
Giving a further breakdown, former minister said N103.29 billion was allocated for Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) while transfers to the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND) for infrastructure projects in tertiary institutions is N248.27 billion.
Ahmed added that N470 billion was allocated for tertiary education revitalisation and salary enhancement.
For context, the education sector got the second largest allocation in the budget after defence and security sectors which account for N2.98 trillion — representing 13.4 per cent of the budget.
The United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organizations (UNESCO) recommended that member nations should earmark four to six per cent of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) or 15 to 20 of public expenditure (annual budget) to fund education.
However, UNESCO said “the majority of countries have not yet reached this threshold”.
The 2023 allocation to the sector was an increase from that of last year’s budget which gave education N923.79 billion representing 5.4 per cent of the N17.23trillion budget. (NAN)(www.nannews.ng)
Edited by Sadiya Hamza