Poor funding of education responsible for rising insecurity, ActionAid, others tell FG

As Nigeria joins the rest of the world to mark 2021 Global Action Week on Education, GAWE, ActionAid Nigeria, AAN, and other stakeholders, Thursday, told Federal Government that the rising insecurity in Nigeria is traceable to poor funding and sheer neglect of the nation’s education sector.

Stakeholders made their stand known at a one-day ‘National Dialogue on Education Financing’ with the theme ‘More and Better Financing of Education in Nigeria’, held in Abuja, which was organised by ActionAid in collaboration with Civil Society Action Coalition on Education For All, CSACEFA, and Nigeria Union of Teachers, NUT.

Speaking on revenue losses by the federal government for granting corporate tax incentives annually, which amounts to $327 million for import duty exemptions could double allocation to education which currently constitutes 5.68 per cent of the 2021 national budget, the Country Director, AAN, Ene Obi, said in welcome remarks that the time to change the narrative in the nation’s education sector is now as implications for less commitment to it are currently affecting socio-economic life and national security.

Obi also explained what GAWE is all about, which according to her is aimed at raising the voices of more than 1 billion people around the world whose education has been affected or completely stopped because of the COVID-19 pandemic. This year’s celebration is particularly important because there will be the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) Replenishment Conference taking place on 28th and 29th July 2021, where Minsters of Education and Finance will be in attendance from all over the world.

She said: “ActionAid Nigeria, in collaboration with the Civil Society Action Coalition on Education for All and the Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT) joins the world to commemorate this year’s Global Action Week on Education (GAWE) on the theme ‘More and better Financing of Education’. As a Human Rights organization, education is considered a human right issue and we seek to pursue the right to education of all children, which has a transformative impact on the lives of children and learners of all ages, in addition to the impact on the building back of our country and economy as we move forward and beyond the pandemic.

“Irrespective of the mounting challenges, ActionAid has contented to promote the rights to education since the UN Global Agenda 2030, that recognized the need to reach the most marginalized group in the society thereby ensuring no one is left behind.

“Several challenges including COVID 19 pandemics, the rising Insecurity in our institutions of learning have constituted nightmares. According to UNESCO SDG Monitoring Report 2020, in Nigeria, at least 611 teachers were deliberately killed and 19,000 forced to flee between 2009 and 2015. Nigerian like most other countries is signatory to Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).

“Among these challenges is the continued revenue dwindling occasioned by Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs). The implication among others, include the continued deprivation of the much-needed revenue to fund the delivery of free, quality, essential public services, like education.

“The IFF outflows also have implications to the infrastructural development of the countries. Even more worrisome, is the implication on the poor and the most vulnerable in the society, where there is lacking public social spending, there is always that tendency of increasing poverty and inequality.

“As noted by ActionAid, the Nigerian government loses 0.8% of GDP from corporate income tax incentives annually, amounting to US$3.3m and around US$327m a year on revenue losses to import duty exemption. These amounts could more than double the allocation to education which currently constitutes 5.68% of the 2021 national budget, – far below the globally agreed benchmark of 15-20%2 .

“Interestingly, if these huge figures lost to harmful tax incentives are effectively collected by the government, it is more than enough to put back to school the 10.2 million children currently out of school in Nigeria.”

Also pointing to the inadequacy of fund and lack of political will by the government to adequately fund public education, especially to meet the financing targets outlined in the SDG Framework for action she said that,  “Countries invest up to 4-6% GDP and 15-20% of their national budgets in education but unfortunately in Nigeria, the national budget allocation to education over the last three years (2016 to 2019) have not exceeded 7.14%.

“This is abysmally poor for a country with up to 10.2m children out of school. Consequently, the private sector is taking the available space through private investment in the provision of education, thus heightening inequality and poverty. In a recent report published in June 2019 by ActionAid, entitled: The impact of privatisation on the fulfillment of the Right to Education in 7 African countries: What do the Abidjan Principles tell us?

“The Abidjan Principles were used to assess the impact of private provision on the right to education, with a particular analysis on aspects of segregation and discrimination which may be associated with private provision.

“The report reveals that, because of the under-funding of the education sector, the private sector is on the increase, entrenching social inequalities, leading to stratification and huge disparities in education opportunities.”

Meanwhile, ActionAid has been in the calling for progressive tax reforms to raise the tax-to-GDP ratio and measures to ensure the wealthy as well as big multinational corporations are paying their fair of taxes. Fair and progressive tax will help increase the national tax-to-GDP ratio and thus the availability of public funds to invest in public services such as education.

“In conclusion, Nigeria governments at all levels should as a matter of urgency prioritize education funding, given that education is the cornerstone of any country”, she stated.

The National Moderator, Civil Society Action Coalition on Education For All, CSACEFA, Babatunde Omole, while speaking in the same vein demanded 50 per cent of budgetary allocation to the education sector with full implementation, which will go a long way to provide Nigerians quality education at all levels of their educational pursuit that would boost national development and curb brain-drain including insecurity.

“We want to ensure that every citizen in our country actually has access to quality education, gender-responsive and all-inclusive education in our country.

“There is no gainsaying emphasizing the importance of education from the communities in the states to national and local governments, and all our efforts will not be in vain.

“But we are faced with so many realities as regards to education development, and one of the key things we have to look at is that we know the Abuja Declaration, and we believe strongly that we are far off from the expected commitment from the Nigerian government.

“At least we supposed to have 50 per cent of our revenue being allocated in our budgets to education annually but we are still roaming around seven per cent.

“We are having about 10 million children out of school and I know this is going to take harsh toll on wholistic national development that is why we are having so many challenges in terms of our security and others”, Omole said.

He also lamented lack of reliable and accurate data which has hampered the optimal performance of CSOs, “We do make in our national development in Nigeria is that we do not have accurate and effective data to work with for us to perform optimally in any thematic area we want to walk on to contribute to wholistic development.

“We are all aware of the true reflection of what is happening in our nation there is every tendency that we might not be able to get it right. We have challenges of data.

“In 2019, we realise that about N51 billion is still seated in Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, account for education which has not been accessed due to some bottlenecks, and unsafe schools is one of the key issues we are having now.”

He also demanded that government should increase educational budget to at 50 per cent, and also involve CSOs in the budget process, and all stakeholders should work together in order to ensure girls, boys, women, and adults have a safe environment for learning.

“We want the UBE Amendment Bill to be passed in earnest and we believe that we can all come together and work on all those policies we have been able to develop overtime from national education development policy and so many other policies that we need to implement to raise our index and indicators in education development”, he stated.

However, in an emotion-laden speech by Nollywood Diva and ActionAid Nigeria Ambassador, Hilda Dokubo, lamented the poor attitude of the government in Nigeria that has put the education sector in a quagmire, leading to heightened insecurity that has caused monumental loss of lives and property as the terrible situation engulfs the nation in all directions.

Source: Vanguard News

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More