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Education Budget: Stakeholders Laud Jonathan On N426.53b
Education sector in the 2013 budget has been greeted with commendations from Stakeholders in the sector, who described it as a step in the right direction towards meeting the 26 per cent UNESCO minimum recommendation for Education in every country’s budget.
It implies that in 2013, Education will gulp 8.7 per cent of the national budget. This is the first time since independence that the Education sector will top the national budget. Looking at previous national budgets, one would discover that there has been a steady increase in Education budget starting from 2010 during President Yar’Adua’s administration.
That year, N249.086b out of the proposed N4.079 trillion budget was allocated to the sector. The Ministry of Works in that year received the highest allocation of N249.425 billion followed by Education, N249.086 billion.
In 2011, out of the N4.971 trillion approved by the Senate, as against N4.22 trillion budget proposal presented by President Goodluck Jonathan, Education came second with N306.3 billion allocated to it while in the 2012 budget of N4.7 trillion, Education also came second with N400 billion.
The analysis above reveals that there has been a systematic increment in the budgetary allocation to Education from 2010 to 2013.
Thus, from 2010-2011, the sector had N56.917b as increment. Between 2011 and 2012, it recorded additional N94.3b, while from 2012 -2013, if the proposed budget is passed by the Senate, the sector will witness additional N26.53b.
Reacting to the proposed budget for Education in 2013, Professor Peter Okebukola said; “It is heart-warming that Education is proposed by the executive arm of government to receive the highest budgetary allocation in 2013, N426.53 billion. This is an indication of the recognition by the government of the power of Education in addressing many of the challenges facing our nation today.”
Education, he noted, is the antidote to poverty and ignorance and the key for unlocking natural resources, adding that no nation striving for accelerated development, does so without huge investment in education. It is often said that Education will not solve all of society’s ills, but without education, no solution is possible.
Through education, this time, quality education, the challenges facing Nigeria relating to youth unemployment, crime and insurgency, will be severely reduced. We should, however, note that if our investment in Education is not sustained at a high level over the next decades, the 2013 performance will be a flash in the pan, we will fail to reap the dividends of such high investment in education.”
Okebukola who urged Nigerians to look beyond the proposed figure of N426.53 billion, pointed out five concerns that are worth raising. First, he asked if the National Assembly will keep the quantum which even as it stands, is not sufficient to address the 2013 needs of the Education sector at the federal level, in the face of an upwelling request to raise allocation to agriculture and other sectors?
Another question begging for an answer is this; “Will the transition from budget estimate to signed Appropriation Act be speedy enough to ensure that the money is available in time for spending?”
According to him, the pattern that has emerged over the last few years is a long delay in processing the Appropriation Bill and by the time it is passed and finally blessed by the President’s signature, we have just a few months to the end of the financial year.
The third question is, What guarantee do we have that all the monies appropriated will be released for spending? Fourthly, even when the monies are released, what about leakages in the system which make less money available for direct impact? Fifthly, has the Education sector the ability to spend the money in one year given the expenditure controls of due process especially when the funds are released a few months to end of the financial year?”
“Moreover,” he added, “since the details of the proposed expenditure are not available at this time, my conjecture, most of this ‘big money to education’ will go into recurrent expenses especially staff salaries. We cannot overstress the importance of well-motivated staff, especially teachers in delivering quality Education at all levels.
“However, what we need more at this time and in addition to such heavy recurrent costs, is capital grants to heal our ailing schools, especially our universities. The joy for me is that the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) has a new regime of intervention to address many of these infrastructural and human resource challenges.
“We anticipate that state governments will take a cue from the Federal Goverment in making Education stay on top of the pack in budgetary allocation in 2013 and beyond, so that Nigeria takes full advantage of the power of Education in addressing the current vexing national challenges.”
Speaking in the same vein, Professor Aize Obayan, Vice- Chancellor, Covenant University, applauded President Goodluck Jonathan’s proposed Education budget of N426.53 billion stating that the move is a step in the right direction.
Obayan, however, noted that with the considered amount for education, Nigeria is yet to meet the 26 per cent UNESCO minimum recommendation. She said; “In the overall budget of this country, we must have this done to bring Nigeria universities to the fore in the first best ten in the world.”
According to the VC, “if we looked at Education operationalization globally, be it primary, secondary and university, there must be a progression in Information Communication Technology (ICT), well equipped laboratories, conducive classrooms to facilitate learning in its ramification. Many universities in our country do not have equipment.”
Bothered by the inconsistency in our Education policy, Obayan called for Education agenda which every minister in that sector must strictly follow, maintaining that every minister of Education always come with their policies with specific agenda to pursue. “Just like Singapore has a workable agenda for their Education sector, we need to have a vision of what we want for our Education sector,” she said.
Further, she added that we cannot achieve our vision without human development in training and retraining teachers, pleading that we should endeavour to effect partnership with universities abroad for effective research work. “We can not talk of effective government outside education,” she said.
In utilising the fund, Obayan urged the government to give it a holistic approach that will cut across federal, state and private institutions, stressing that the government should ensure that the money is spent on what it is meant for. “There should be proper planning and expenditure to engender changes in the sector,” she added.
On his part, the Dean of Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry, University of Ibadan, Professor Adeniyi Togun who was happy with the proposed allocation, however, stated that the N426.53 billion is inadequate if compared with the minimum 26 per cent recommended by UNESCO.
He argued that since budget is a statement of intent, the Federal Government may not fully implement the amount on Education at the end of the year. His words:;“Budget is a statement of intent. Our budget in this country has never fully been implemented as the government always pay lip service to Education with a non- focussed implementation. This seems to be the rule in this country. N426.53 billion is below the 26 per cent UNESCO recommendation for education.”
Also, the National President, National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), Com. Dauda Mohammed, lauded President Jonathan for the improvement in the budgetary allocation to the Education sector, and maintained that the government has realised the need to invest more in Education in a bid to foster overall economic growth and state-wide development.
His words; “The present commitment of the President Jonathan administration can be seen as a right step in the right direction towards the attainment of our age-long agitation for the actualisation of the 26 per cent minimum allocation to Education as recommended by the UNESCO. We therefore urge the National Assembly to complement this effort by ensuring a timely passage and encouraging proper implementation of the budget.”
Education Budget: Stakeholders Laud Jonathan On N426.53b
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