By: Bakare Kabirat Abiodun
The Nigerian education system which produced world renowned scholars in the past has now become a shadow of itself. The rot in the nation’s education system has reached such a deplorable proportion that if not properly addressed now, subsequent generations of Nigerians will continue to suffer its consequences.
At present, Nigeria houses 37% of the out-of-school children, OOSC – which equal 9 million – in the world, according to the Mo Ibrahim report on ‘African Youth Fulfilling Their Potentials’. As a result of this, most Nigerian children who should be in school are not. In the Eastern (especially Igbo speaking) part of the country, one prevalent problem is the boy-child drop-out syndrome. The boys for economic reasons refuse to go to school and those who enter primary schools drop out prematurely. They refuse to complete primary and secondary education because even the educated in the society struggle to get employed. Many children are therefore found in mechanic villages as apprentices to crafts masters in various types of businesses or in other engagements outside the school.
In the Northern part, the problem is that of the girl-child dropout from school for reasons ranging from cultural values opposed to female education to ignorance as well as poverty.
As unsolvable as this problem may seem, if proper measures are put in place, implemented and well monitored, more children will be enrolled in schools, hence bringing the drop-out syndrome to a reasonably minimal percentage if not totally eliminating it. Some of such measures are examined below.
First, there should be adequate funding of the education sector. Although the 2013 budgetary allocation to the education sector is higher than those of other sectors, it still falls below the recommended standard. While UNESCO recommended that 26% of the total budget be assigned to education, the N426.53billion allocated to the sector takes only 8.67% of the proposed total budget of N4.92trillion. The management of primary, secondary and tertiary institutions in Nigeria are in consensus that these institutions are under-funded. Evidence exists pointing to the degree of dilapidation that characterizes the primary and secondary school buildings in various parts of the country. If funds channeled into these institutions are properly managed and utilized efficiently it would improve the educational sector and help check the drop–out syndrome.
Second, regular payment of teachers’ salaries and allowances is recommended. Frequent strike has become the order of the day as a result of non-payment of teachers’ salaries and allowances. This in turn results in the parents’ or students’ loss of interest in education after an unreasonably long period of strike. Therefore, timely payment of teachers’ salaries and allowances would help reduce the rate at which children drop out from schools.
Also, free and quality education for all should be embraced as provided under section 18 of the 1999 Nigerian constitution. Due to the poor economic condition of the country, very few parents can afford to educate their children by enrolling them in schools. Therefore cost of acquiring qualitative education should be as low as possible to encourage such parents to enroll their children in schools. More so, if the education is free, this makes it easier for them to develop interest in it. This way, the rate at which children drop-out of school as a result of financial incapability will be reduced.
*Bakare Kabirat Abiodun is a 300L student of Microbiology, Unilorin. Comments are welcomed at [email protected].