Edugist has at its roundtable, Thursday, brought together a group of education experts and policymakers to localise and offer financing solutions to reach the Sustainable Development Goal Four (SDG 4) among African countries, especially Nigeria.
The round table tagged “Financing Gap for Education: Can African Countries Afford their SDG 4 Benchmarks?” sought solutions to the financial challenges facing African countries in achieving Sustainable Development Goal Four (SDG 4) – ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education for all.
Nigeria has allocated about 12 per cent of its annual budget and 2 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) on the average to education in last couple of years. This is below the 15 per cent of annual budget and 4 per cent of GDP budgetary allocation among African peers. There are 20 million out-of-school children in Africa’s most populous country, according to data from United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) Institute for Statistics (UNESCO UIS).
In addition, one in four children in Africa does not complete primary education. And Nigeria’s target of 90 per cent primary school enrollment and completion rate, 85 per cent junior secondary and 74 per cent senior secondary completion rates as benchmarks ahead of 2030 SDG deadline would be more aspirational than realistic without the necessary financing to back this.
“To achieve the national targets, which are less ambitious than the universal global targets of everyone achieving them, is $97 billion per year. Of that, $70 billion are for African countries. So the vast majority of financing gap is located in Africa,” Manos Antoninis, director of the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation, Global Education Monitoring Report said at the Edugist Roundtable.
Antoninis added that this financing gap to meet national SDG 4 benchmarks is based on cost estimates built on seven indicators.
The seven indicators include early childhood education, out-of-school rate, completion rate of upper secondary education, gender gap, target on learning outcome which is reading and mathematics, percentage of teachers trained, and finally, target on financing public budget on education.
Despite the fact that Nigeria’s national budgetary allocation to education is below that of its African peers, the acting Executive Secretary, Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), Professor Bala Zakari, has revealed that the state governors are failing to access the sum of N46.2 billion earmarked for basic education by the Commission. To access this funds or grant states have to provide a 50 per cent matching funding.
Read the UNESCO report here: SDG4 2030: Countries need about $100bn per year to meet education targets
In 2022 matching grants, 11 states namely; Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Ekiti, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Nasarawa, Ondo, Taraba and Zamfara have accessed the 2021 UBE matching grant. Twenty-five states and Federal Capital Territory (FCT) were yet to access the 2022 UBE matching grant as of April 30, 2023. But some states have a different story with regards to financing education.
Adeola Salau, PhD, senior special adviser to the Lagos state governor on education remarked at the roundtable that in the past three years, Lagos state has had the highest allocation for education in Nigeria.
She said “we have the highest state allocation for education in Nigeria than any budget across Nigeria, our education budget is even higher than that of other capital expenditures, like higher than the budget for the ministry of works. This is something that is unprecedented.”.
Salau highlighted Lagos state’s investments in education saying the Nigeria’s commercial capital has been spending on the creation of the schools because there are not enough schools for students, both at the primary and the secondary level.
Then at the tertiary level, the state has opened two new universities. One of them is dedicated, to education itself as a university of education which means that the institution will focus on breeding and training teachers who are going to come in to replace the ageing workforce because are retiring. Teacher training is an important focus for the state and the state has been spending heavily on this. This involves working on programmes for the training of teachers at both primary and the secondary levels. Teachers’ welfare has also been a top priority.
Hakeem Subair, chief executive officer, 1 Million Teachers while giving his speech called on the government to focus on basic education to develop children that function well in society. He said “Let’s focus on the top priority which is ensuring that every child has access to functional basic education which is nine years of education.”
On teachers’ welfare and access to information, he argued that when there is access to information this will increase economic and educational productivity, especially with access to internet connectivity.
“We should also focus on the frontliners, the teachers leading the education and how to attract and to retain and make them stay,” he said.
Similarly, the Chairman of Queens College, Parent Teachers Association, Adedamola Adewuyi raised concerns over teachers deserting the country and the plans to replace them.
According to him, teachers are travelling abroad, what is the replacement plan? What is the training plan? What is the welfare package?
Adewuyi emphasised that education is a tool for national development and if we don’t get it right in education as a nation we are going nowhere.
On funding, he envisaged that there is a need for to be deliberate in terms of funding for Nigeriaia to make education accessible to all.
Read also: Financing the Education Gap: Can African Countries Afford their SDG 4 Benchmarks?