A random interview conducted by Naijavoxpop among undergraduates in one of the Nigerian leading University reveal that the students have lost hope in government investment in education and economic opportunities for the youth. This is hurting their self esteem because the lack of employment even after graduation has further reinforced the thought that education is a waste. They no longer believe that educational attainment can promote and provoke empowerment for the people, as a result of the inability of government to link education to development. The thought of going to school to learn in order to work and see opportunities is now a mirage to many of them.
However, the importance of education cannot be overemphasized because it is the basis upon which the foundations of sustainable economic and social development are created.
We must begin with the question why many young Nigerians no longer see the usefulness of education? According to Dike, the state of education in Nigeria is uncertain, as the destination is unknown. This is because of a plethora of factors ranging from long years of military rule and neglect by politicians, which has hampered the growth of education in the country.
The 1999 UNICEF report on Nigeria stated that over four million of her children have no access to basic education, yet it failed to move the government at all levels to declare education a national emergency, coupled with the fact that the Boko Haram insurgency has further worsened an already hopeless situation, with many children of school age in Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp. In spite of this, the government of Nigeria has consistently failed to meet the budget benchmark for education. In 2014, the government budgeted N492.34 billion, in 2015 N492.34billion, and in 2016 N653.53 billion respectively. According to the Premium Times, the 2017 budget proposal of N448.01 billion is far less than the 2016 education budget of N653.53 billion.
The total allocation of states to education in the country is about 10.7 percent of the national budget, lower than the UNESCO recommended benchmark of 26 per cent for education and that of Ghana’s 18 per cent. The African Dept, Jubilee 2000 in 2001 made a comparison of African countries spending on education (%GNP). Angola 4.9 per cent, Cote d voire 5 per cent, Ghana, 4.4 per cent, Kenya 6.5 per cent, Mozambique 4.1 per cent, Nigeria 0.76 per cent, South Africa 7.9 per cent, Tanzania 3.4 per cent and Uganda 2.6 per cent. Nigeria has the least investment in education.
Many have argued that the poor funding of education has led to lack of motivation among teachers and university lecturers, due to poor remuneration, lack of trainings, research grants and low capital investment in the sector. It is believed that the lack of funding for education has forced many tertiary institutions in most South-West states in the country to shutdown, as a result of poor learning environment and failing infrastructural facilities. No wonder, no Nigerian university is among the top 10 African Universities.
While we lament over the poor funding of education, politicians are enjoying and exploiting the use of security votes for personal use that could have been used to fund the many education needs of the people. In Nigeria, the 36 state governors receive over N8 billion each as security votes yearly, imagine if a quantum of these monies find their way into education and the provision of economic opportunities for young graduates.
Critically, it is of essence that public office holders view investment in education as one of urgent national importance, with the development of strategic objectives to revive the dwindling fortunes of education in Nigeria. And also creating sectoral linkages between education and economic development in order to encourage and strengthen the belief in youths that education is the foundation for development.