Nigeria's education system is in disarray with schools closed for months on end as a result of strikes and underdevelopment in the education sector. Given these conditions, Nigerian students have left the country for education abroad. Nigerian students spent a total of N246 billion on education in the United Kingdom in 2009 and even Canada is working to attract Nigerian students. In reaction, Nigeria's House of Representatives is considering a bill to ban the foreign education of all public officials in the country.
The bill passed its first reading in the House and awaits a second reading. If formally made into law, it would require public officials to educate their children at Nigeria's primary and undergraduate institutions. In order to educate their children abroad, all public holders would have to obtain a waiver from the Minister of Education. The issuance of a waiver would be guided by the following -
- the "nature of the proposed course of study for an undergraduate applicant"
- the "medical condition [of the undergraduate applicant]"
- the "general national interest"
TROUBLING EDUCATION INDICATORS
In 2009, Nigerian Universities were shut down for 5 months, affecting an estimated 10 million students. It was no surprise then, that 2009 saw some of the worst exam results for Nigerian students. Only 25% of Nigerian students passed the Senior Schools Certificate Examination (SSCE) and a stunning 98% of Nigerian students failed the NECO.
However, one can only wonder if banning the foreign education of the children of public officials is going to help solve the nation's educational woes. Especially as a waiver can be obtained to subvert the bill. Besides, this bill appears to simply be a move to appear populist by legislators who fail to focus on the real issue - the education of Nigeria's children.
Adequate funding for Nigeria's dilapidated education sector would have been a better indication that legislators intend to tackle the problem. Nigeria previously apportioned N210 billion for the education sector in 2008, N249 billion in 2009, and only N295 billion in the 2010 budget. This amount is far short of what is necessary to adequately educate students and prepare the nation's workforce to be competitive on a global scale. This failure to make education a priority is further troubling because 23 million of Nigeria's youth are currently unemployable and 10 million northern children beg instead of go to school.
Nigeria has a population of about 150 million people and is projected to become the 8th most populous country in the world by 2050. In order for Nigeria to be prepared for the challenges it will face as its population grows, the education of citizens must be a predominant factor. Unfortunately, the budget allocation for the sector indicates that the nation's leaders are unwilling to work in furtherance of the country's future needs. And worse yet, a supposed ban on educating certain children abroad lacks any teeth due to a waiver, and will simply be a worthless law that does nothing to help Nigeria.
From The Archives:
- Canada Luring Nigerian Students
- Nigerian Students Spend N246 BN In UK
- 23mn Of Nigeria's Youth Are Unemployable
- Nigeria's 10MN Child Beggars