Centuries ago, Plato wrote that “If a man neglects education, he walks lame to the end of his life.” That statement is true today as it was then. The venerable Nelson Mandela lays credence to Plato’s statement by saying that “education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
In today’s world when every nation has shifted attention to education and investing heavily on it as the bedrock for development, Nigeria continues to pay lip services to the education of her citizens.
On this page, and on several pages of BusinessDay, we had aired stories where we called government’s attention to the dilapidated form of the nation’s education.
On September 14, 2018, we published a story where we demonstrated that “Nigeria lags behind in articulating a clear strategy for the fast emerging era of the fourth industrial revolution when knowledge will be the main resource that drives economic growth,” as against some African countries such as Ghana, Rwanda, etc. who are making practical efforts in giving its populace a head-start in preparing them for the competition ahead in the global knowledge economy.
When economist Jim O’Neill coined the acronym, MINT (Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey) as the next emerging economies of the world after BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China), he had projected that by 2050 Nigeria would be a super power in the world economic circle.
Analysts had projected that if Nigeria gets its act together, she could match Chinese-style double-digit growth rate in the nearest future. Research shows, however, that while other MINT members are working towards their economic prosperity, Nigeria remains backwards in its quest to achieve economic prosperity, one of which is its lackadaisical attitude towards the education of its future generations.
For example, while Indonesia, Turkey and Mexico budgeted 17.2%, 18% and 14% of their respective 2018 budget to education, Nigeria’s government earmarked a degrading 7% to education. The Finance Minister of Turkey, NaciAğbal, even announced that “the lion’s share of the 2018 budget will be for education expenditure.”
According to the available data, at the moment over 60 percent of children of school age are out of school in Nigeria. This is not accidental.
Study shows that since 2010, the three years of the Buhari administration have witnessed both reduction and declining in budgetary allocations to education, the least being 2018 budget with 7.04% allocation to education.
It wasn’t surprising that the World Bank recently ranked Nigeria 171 out of 195 for its investments in education, health and human capital development, even below Democratic Republic of Congo and just ahead of Zambia. Already, Nigeria has been designated the poverty capital of the world with approximately six people being through into extreme poverty every minute and eight thousand every day.
Nigeria’s 2016 171 ranking represents a drop from its 1990 ranking of 155th. Like the authors of the study said, there is a close association between investments in education and health and improved human capital and GDP- which policy makers often ignore at their own peril.
The implication is clear: Nigeria does not prioritise education and does not see it as the key to economic growth and prosperity.
Education is at the heart of all development and growth in every society. It makes every human development possible, from advancement in health technology, agricultural innovations, manufacturing equipment to efficient public/private efficient administration.
Any society or nation that ignores investments in education jeopardises its future, its long-term development and even the emancipation of its people.
If the Nigerian government does not have a rethink and reset its thinking on education, our teeming population will continue to walk lame and aimlessly while other countries empower their citizens to take charge of their lives, be competitive globally and also develop their countries. Like the World Bank advises, we need to invest early and invest smartly so that we do not miss out altogether.
Source : Bussiness News