Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA) has again used the opportunity of the 2024 International Day for Education to challenge the growing commercialization of education in Nigeria, noting that access to education is a critical pillar of building a peaceful society.
The International Day of Education is marked every year on the 24th of January, according to the United Nations calendar. The United Nations General Assembly on December 3, 2018, adopted a resolution proclaiming January 24 as the International Day of Education, in celebration of the role of education in bringing global peace and sustainable development.
“Education has suffered great neglect in our country, more so since the beginning of the present democratic dispensation. I’m not sure that budgetary allocation to education has gone past 10% at any point since 1999. The government is promising to put 10 billion naira into the student loan fund. But when one compares 10 billion to how much reports have suggested that we need, one would see that it’s just too meager. The ASUU report released 13 years ago suggested that we need about 1.3 trillion naira to revitalize Nigerian universities. The report had recommended that we should put in over 200 billion annually so that over a period of six years we’d have covered 1.3 trillion naira needed. How many 10 billion makes 1.3 trillion naira? So one can see very clearly that the pace at which Nigeria is moving towards funding education adequately is too slow. There is the need for something drastic to be done” he said.
Speaking further, he noted that “what we must do to guarantee the right to education for all is to recognize education as a strong pillar for peacebuilding as UNESCO is doing. To build a peaceful society, we must prioritize education. And not just the kind of education that you get in the four walls of classrooms, but lifelong education. For instance, the average taxi driver must be afforded the opportunity to be part of a literary club or a film club or a public library, where there is the opportunity to reflect on our reality openly and freely. We must see education as a prerequisite for peacebuilding! To this end, it must be seen as a public good.”
Responding to the question about whether the student loan scheme being proposed by the Tinubu government will help resolve the problem of lack of access to education, Gideon noted that the pronouncement of the possible commencement of the scheme has been accompanied by an astronomical rise in school fees across campuses, from UNILAG to UNIABUJA. The rising school fees and the paltry amount being proposed for the student loan fund, according to him, already suggest very strongly that only a small proportion of education seekers will be able to access the loan and get higher education in the coming period. He referred to the estimate by ASUU, suggesting that about 50% of students will have to drop out of universities if schools keep rising at the present rate. The ultimate solution, according to him, is for the government to consider education as a top priority and adequately fund the sector.