Low budgetary allocation, threat to basic education in Nigeria – DFID

The United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID) on Friday said low budgetary allocation to education at federal and state levels posed a serious challenge to basic education in Nigeria.

Mr David Ukagwu, the Head of DFID in Lagos, said this at the monthly dialogue on “Achieving Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 4); Prospects and Challenges,’’ organised by the United Nation Information Centre (UNIC).

Ukagwu, who is also the head of Southwest Regional Coordinator of DFID, said inadequate releases of budgeted funds and poor political commitment also contributed to the challenges confronting basic education in Nigeria.

The DFID coordinator’s presentation was titled, “SDG 4: Promoting Life Long Learning Opportunities for All: Prospects and Challenges.”

According to him, Nigeria spends only 1.7 per cent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on education, which is lower than the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) recommendation of 4.1 per cent.

“Nigeria is ranked 4th lowest out of 41 Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) countries and below SSA average of 4.6 per cent of GDP.

“The SDG 4 – seeks to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promotes lifelong learning opportunities for all,” he said.

Ukagwu said Nigeria urgently needed to take steps to rejuvenate basic education.

He added that the current system had failed to equip students with the knowledge and skills they needed to thrive in today’s rapidly changing society and economy.

He said Nigeria must address disparity in access, particularly focusing on constraints facing the poorest children, girls, marginalised children in the North and children in conflict areas.

“Nigeria should embrace the pluralist system of state and non-state education providers to ensure all its children, youths and adults are able to access a good quality basic education.

“To seriously empower citizens to become agents of positive social and economic change, there is need to make quality provision of basic literacy skills a priority,” he added.

Ukagwu said it was expected that by 2030 Nigeria should ensure that all girls and boys complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education leading to relevant and effective learning outcomes.

He said all girls and boys should access quality early childhood development, care and pre-primary education so that they would be ready for primary education by 2030.

In his remarks, Mr Ronald Kayanja, UNIC Director, said the essence of the dialogue was to stimulate ideas and opinion that would drive the agenda of promoting basic education in Nigeria.

Kayanja said SDG4 specifically sought to address education, which was to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.

He said notable on the targets was to ensure access to quality early childhood development; ensure all girls and boys completed free; equitable and quality primary and secondary education.

Others are: to ensure vocational education; eliminate gender disparities in education; and increase the supply of qualified teachers amongst other.

“It reflects our determination to ensure that all children and young people gain the knowledge and skills they need to live in dignity; to reach their potential and contribute to their societies as responsible global citizens.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that SDG 4 programme was organised by UNIC in collaboration with United Nation Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) and DFID. (NAN)

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