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Stats: 17,979 Members, 73,269 Topics, 15,953 Comments. Date: Sep 19 2019, 5:57 pm

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Fadeyi Oluwaseun
Ladoke Akintola University Ogbomosho
B.tech Marketing Management
200Level, Nigeria.
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In Nigeria’s fleeting political arena, to be re-appointed in the president’s cabinet is a feat, which some consider more important than effectively carrying out national service. Head, Education Desk, IYABO LAWAL, examines the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu’s first term in office and what to expect in his second tenure.
Mallam Adamu Adamu, Nigeria’s education minister, often wears a sombre look. A smile hardly plays on his lips. His brows always look ruffled. His bespectacled eyes are focused. It is likely easy to conclude that the re-appointed minister is too serious-minded.

But, his critics believe it is also easy to say that nothing serious has happened for the good of the education sector under his watch.

Yet, everyone agrees that he won the gold medal for the minister who called for a declaration of an emergency in the system -and nothing happened.

In a self-appraisal, it is not likely Adamu will say he failed in his first time in office. Posterity is the ultimate judge.

Education standards in Nigeria have continued to fall in spite of calls by experts and stakeholders for an overhauling of the sector. The minister’s response to such calls was repeated calls for a declaration of a state of emergency by all states. Of, course, nobody listened to him.

In April 2017, Adamu had said, “The President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration is vigorously implementing its change agenda in the education sector, as plans have reached advanced stage for the declaration of a state of emergency in the sector by the Federal Government, Mallam Adamu Adamu, Nigeria’s education minister, often wears a sombre look. A smile hardly plays on his lips. His brows always look ruffled. His bespectacled eyes are focused. It is likely easy to conclude that the re-appointed minister is too serious-minded.

But, his critics believe it is also easy to say that nothing serious has happened for the good of the education sector under his watch.

Yet, everyone agrees that he won the gold medal for the minister who called for a declaration of an emergency in the system -and nothing happened.

In a self-appraisal, it is not likely Adamu will say he failed in his first time in office. Posterity is the ultimate judge.

and it is expected that state governors will do the same in their states.”

Then, in July of that year, his principal, President Buhari directed him to convene a summit on education to address the issue of funding.

Under Adamu’s watch, the number of out-of-school children has swollen. It is the same with fake universities in the country.

Nigeria is the seventh most populous country in the world. From an estimated 42.5 million people in 1960, Nigeria’s population has more than quadrupled to almost 200 million people in 2018.

According to the United Nations’ projections, the country will become the third-largest country in the world by 2050 with 399 million people. At the moment that is not good news for the education sector in the country. Severe cuts in financial allocation for the sector have done more damage than good.

To illustrate: in the proposed budget presented to the National Assembly, President Buhari allocated only 7.04 percent of the N8.6 trillion 2018 budget to education. The total amount allocated to the sector is N605.8 billion with N435.1 billion for recurrent expenditure, N61.73 billion for capital expenditure and N109.06 billion for the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC).

That allocation is lower than the 7.4 percent the government earmarked for education in the N7.4 trillion 2017 budget. The breakdown of the N550 billion allocated in 2017 was N398 billion for recurrent expenditure, N56 billion for capital expenditure and N95 billion to UBEC. Experts have noted that even though the N605 billion appropriated for the sector in 2018 is higher –in naira terms – than the N550 billion appropriated for it in 2017, a percentage decrease is evident.

However, Adamu believes that the Buhari administration is committed to the promotion of education, research, and development, pointing to the ‘Education for change: A ministerial strategic plan (2015-2019)’ blueprint of the government.

The document, according to the minister, is concerned about the issue of out-of-school children, basic education, teacher education, adult literacy, curriculum, and policy matters on basic and secondary education, technical and vocational education, education data planning, library services, information, and communication technology, and tertiary education.

“Sixty percent of the 13.4 million out-of-school children in Nigeria are girls. Only a fraction (17 per cent) of 3.1 million nomadic children of school age have access to basic education despite decades of intervention. Similarly, only a small proportion of the ministry’s 2010 estimate of 9.5 million almajiri children have access to any basic education and an increasing number of displaced children (about one million) are being forced out of school in the insurgency-stricken states,” Adamu had said.

In the document, the Federal Government had proposed strategies for engaging with state governments in addressing the problems of out-of-school children. It also planned to raise the National Enrolment Rate (NET) by enrolling 2,875,000 pupils annually for the next four years as well as renovate schools destroyed by Boko Haram insurgents and construct additional 71,874 classrooms annually.

Besides, the government is expected to provide an additional 71, 875 qualified teachers through the deployment of 14 per cent of the new teachers to be recruited annually (by 2050, Nigeria will need to recruit 400,000) and raise the enrolment of girls in basic education schools by 1.5 million annually for the next four years.

Concerning basic education, the minister admitted that 15 years after the launch of the Universal Basic Education (UBE) programme, pupils’ learning data remain unsatisfactory and mean scores in English, Mathematics, and life skills are very low and generally not up to standard. But almost two years after, there is no sign that implementation has commenced on the document.

In 2015, matching and non-conditional grants disbursements to 15 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory amounted to N68.4 billion while in 2016, grants disbursements to 29 states and the FCT amounted to N77 billion.

In 2017, the Federal Government provided a total of N95 billion to 24 states and the FCT and another N109 billion to 20 states and the FCT. Adamu further lamented that despite all grants and special funds provided things have continued to fall apart in trying to keep children in school. He blamed the state governments.

“Having come to this painful conclusion, the Federal Government decided to deduct from source, part of the last tranche of the Paris Club refund from all the states that have not been able to access their monies from UBEC. If this attitude of deliberate refusal on the part of states to provide counterpart funding for basic education continues, then the Federal Government will have no choice than to sustain its strategy of deducting counterpart funding of states percentage from source,” the unhappy minister had said.

However, Ayodeji Olukoju, a professor of History and former vice-chancellor, Caleb University, Imota expressed his displeasure regarding Adamu’s performance.

“We have had labour union issues and managed to resolve them, universities have been shut down for some time and all that but I have not seen any movement in any direction. He could have done better in the area of Open and Distance Learning (ODL) because I believe that conventional universities may not be the future of Nigeria.

“I cannot associate the minister with any singular achievement, it is just business as usual, no policy initiative. Look at the issue of almajiris, he could have designed a policy that could have taken those children off the streets and averted the looming crisis that we are facing now because where we have children like that, they might be willing tools in the hands of trouble makers.”

Nigeria signed into the global commitment of ensuring 12 years of free, qualitative, compulsory and inclusive education for all by 2030, but this commitment cannot be achieved without adequate infrastructures in schools and trained teachers.

Forty per cent of Nigerian children aged six to 11 do not attend any primary school with the northern region being the highest and despite a significant increase in net enrolment rates in recent years, it is estimated that about 4.7 million children of primary school age are still not in school.

In addition, increased enrolment rates have also created challenges in ensuring quality education and satisfactory learning achievement as resources are spread more thinly across a growing number of students. It is not rare to see cases of 100 pupils per teacher or students sitting under trees outside the school building because of the lack of classrooms.

Apart from increasing enrolment in primary schools, the minister also has to revamp a collapsed secondary school system.

In both 2017 and 2018’s January/February private examinations, only 26.01 percent and 17.13 percent candidates passed with five credits including Mathematics and English respectively; while the remaining over 70 percent of candidates failed.

In March of that year, WAEC had released the result of the newly-introduced February diet for private candidates with only 1,937 out of 11,727 candidates who sat for the examination, obtaining minimum credits and above in five subjects, including English and Mathematics.

A mass failure was recorded in the 2017 WAEC examination. At the release of the general results during the 55th annual meeting of the Nigeria national committee, only 34,664 out of 131,485 had five credits including English and Mathematics. Also, the percentage of candidates in WASSCE, for private candidates, in 2015 and 2016 was 28.58 percent and 38.50 percent, respectively.

The rapidly falling standards of the country’s tertiary education system catch the eye most.

It was a mess Adamu could not clear in his first term. It is not certain if he is capable of exorcising the demons of higher education.

Nigeria’s higher education sector has been overburdened by strong population growth and a significant ‘youth bulge’ with more than 60 percent of the country’s population under the age of 24. Similarly, the rapid expansion of the nation’s higher education sector in recent decades has failed to deliver the resources or seats to accommodate demand.

A substantial number of would-be college and university students are turned away from the system. About two-thirds of applicants who sat for the country’s national entrance examination in 2018 could not get admission into a university.

According to data from the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) Institute of Statistics (UIS), the number of Nigerian students abroad increased by 164 percent in the decade between 2005 and 2015 alone, from 26,997 to 71,351.

At other times, Nigerian youths are forced to seek university in countries like the Republic of Benin, Togo, Ghana, and even Chad.

Uneasy lies the head of Adamu who is at the helm of affairs of Nigeria’s education ministry. In his previous outing, he did not convince many he was the man for the job.

But, it appears President Buhari is more concerned about keeping those he knows well around him than appointing technocrats who can salvage a battered education system. It is yet to be seen whether minister Adamu will do things differently to achieve better results in the sector or he will carry on with his political appointment in a business-as-usual manner as wearing a frown will not make the myriads of challenges in the country’s education system to disappear.

Without a doubt, Nigerians look forward to seeing the number of out-school-children drastically reduced; improvement in infrastructures, learning and teaching standards in primary and secondary schools; and a university system that is a pride and not scorn of the nation. It should not be a big ask from a minister who signed up for Buhari’s ‘next level’ vision.

Pragmatic, 21st-century approaches and adequate funding are the panacea to revamping the education sector.

But, his critics believe it is also easy to say that nothing serious has happened for the good of the education sector under his watch.

Yet, everyone agrees that he won the gold medal for the minister who called for a declaration of an emergency in the system -and nothing happened.

In a self-appraisal, it is not likely Adamu will say he failed in his first time in office. Posterity is the ultimate judge.

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