A former President of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Dr. Oladipo Fashina, has said 54 per cent of Nigerians are stark illiterates, a development he attributes to Nigeria’s reliance on neo-liberal policies of the West which have under-developed the country’s education sector.
Fashina said this at the opening of the National Education Summit organised by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) National Association of Academic Technologists (NAATS) and Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions (NASU) and a coalition of civil societies in Abuja on Monday.
The theme of the summit is ‘Towards a System of Education for Liberation in Nigeria,” Fashina added that the decline in the education sector started in 1986 during the Ibrahim Babangida military regime which adopted the neo-liberal model for the development of the sector through the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) seeking to run education on market principles.
“The present crisis in education is an offshoot of the neo-liberal misdirection which Nigerian people did not choose. Our rulers still insist that the solution to the crisis in education lies with flooding the country with private schools, universities and commercialised education to operate in acceptance with market rules.
“This explains why public expenditure on education has never gone anywhere near the UNESCO prescription that each country should expend at least 26 per cent of its national budget on education,” he said.
Fashina lamented that despite the wealth of resources, over 136 million Nigerians live below the poverty line with almost 80 per cent living on less than two dollars daily.