The Federal Government should allocate N2.2 trillion to the education sector out of the N8.6 budget proposal for 2018, a civic technology organization, BudgIT Nigeria, has said.
The organization, which is known for pursuing transparency in government budgets, said if the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (NESCO) recommendations was followed, N2.2 trillion not N606 billion should be allocated to the sector in 2018.
Team Lead for the organization, Oluseun Onigbinde, stated this during a summit on public education financing, on Tuesday, in Abuja.
The government has allocated N606 billion to the sector in the 2018 budget proposal presented to the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari last year.
According to UNESCO recommends governments should commit 15 to 20 per cent of their budgets to education.
But Mr. Onigbinde explained that the government’s allocation to the sector in the last three years had continued to decline.
He added that if the government failed to address the decline in funding the sector, over 20 million young Nigerians would have minimal or no skills to compete in an increasingly competitive world.
Mr. said: “UNESCO recommends that government should commit 15 to 20 per cent of the nation’s budget to education if we hope to reverse the trend of decline. Unfortunately, education sector allocation over the last three years, as percentage of the federal budget, is falling.
“The 2018 budget of education should be in the region of N2.2tn –not the abysmal N606bn-if the recommendation is to be followed. Rather than working to close the gap, allocation relative to the size of the Nigeria budget shows a trend of decline.
“If the government fails to act now, over 20 million young Nigerians will have minimal or no skills to compete in an increasingly competitive world. Needless to say, crime rate and poverty are directly linked to lack of skills and education.”
According to him, there was need for governments at all levels to commit significant amount to funding the sector in order to improve on quality.
“We are not serious about education. We can’t keep paying lip service to education in this country.
The current administration is not funding the education sector well. If we don’t fund education well in this country we cannot secure ourselves.
“We believe Nigeria needs to commit significant amounts to improving the quality of education delivered at our higher institutions. It is critical to understand the skills need of the economy and also understand how universities are delivering on the skills.
“We also have a huge challenge around our curriculum in our universities. There is a need for us to sit down and align our curriculum with the development of our economy. It is important to redevelop the university curriculum and align faculty programmes with recent research.
“We observe that there is disconnect between what the economy requires and what the university is delivering. As such, significant fund in the region of about N1 billion is needed to review the curriculum of federally-owned tertiary institutions and understand the skills gap in the economy.
Onigbinde, also said there was need to improve on the quality of infrastructures in universities.
He urged the federal government to set aside N220 billion to expand the capacity of higher education system and improve the quality of infrastructures across institutions in the country.
“Equality important is the need to improve the quality of infrastructure across our institutions of learning. The procedure for accessing the funds under the tertiary education trust fund (TETFund) remains unclear, and significant level of transparency is needed on how the fund is administered.
“We recommend that the proposed 2018 budget sets aside approximately N220 billion to expand the capacity of our higher education system and improve the quality of infrastructure across our institutions.
“Disbursement of funds can be connected to the schools’ ability to absolve more students especially in areas where Nigeria is suffering skills gap,” he added.