The minister of education, Mallam Adamu Adamu January this year, revealed plans by the federal government to declare a state of emergency in the education sector by April.
The minister who made the disclosure when he received Governor Abubakar Sani-Bello of Niger State and some members of his cabinet at the Ministry’s Headquarters in Abuja, requested the support of all
states governors to do the same in their respective states.
“By the end of April, we are proposing there will be a declaration of state of emergency in the education sector all over the country. We request all the state governors to do same in their states and we hope that once this is done our educational sector will improve. I will also meet with the governors to appeal to them to give special emphasis to address the problem of low standard of education especially at primary level,” he had said.
This was not the first time the minister has spoken about the need for a state of emergency in the sector. Last year, during the first ever retreat on education organized by the presidency for members of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) and stakeholders in the education sector, in Abuja, the minister had proposed a declaration of a state of emergency in the sector and a substantially increase government’s investment in the sector.
When the report of the declaration of the state of emergency was made known January, stakeholders in the sector thought it was a done deal; that finally, the government of the day has recognised that without education, the nation will still remain in the dungeon it found itself.
Many thought that it was a welcome development which needed the support from all. According to the Chief Executive of the National Mathematical Center, Prof Stephen Onah, the minister took a bold step
and should be commended and given all the support he needed to achieve the goal of the state of emergency when implemented.
“We appreciate him and the president. Nigerians should give its support at any time it is done. It should not be lost on us that this has been a long standing agitation of almost all the stakeholders in the educational system and in fact, most Nigerians. They have consistently been saying that if the education system is fixed, most of the challenges, we are facing today, would have been handled. So if the federal government has taken this task, it is something that all and sundry should applaud,” he said.
However, the dateline has elapsed without any declaration, making many to wonder if the government is really ready to start bringing about the needed upliftment to the sector.
The president of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, Biodun Ogunyemi in an interview with LEADERSHIP stated that the declaration would not have held water with the amount allocated for education in the 2018 budget.
Recall that education the total sum allocated to the sector was N605.8 billion, with N435.1 billion for recurrent expenditure, N61.73 billion for capital expenditure and N109.06 billion for the Universal Basic
Education Commission. Ogunyemi said that from what he had seen so far, the present government was not in any way different from previous government in the country as it only pays lip service to the transformation of education in Nigeria.
“All along, we had our doubts. We had doubts that the government will declare state of emergency as promised especially from what we saw in the budget. What we have seen about this government is that it is not different from the previous ones, which are just paying lip service to the transformation of education. We have our issues with them. They had promised change and have not changed anything in the educational sector. If anything, education has become worse under them. One thing is to see the problem, another thing is to take concrete step to address the problem,” he said.
He further stated that before a problem can be tackle, it must be assessed first, adding that the government does not have the political will to solve the problem in the sector.
“Until they show us concrete step that they are going to take to solve the problem, we will not believe anything they say about education again. You cannot address the problem, until you assess the situation.
The first thing that needed to be done is to assess the situation.
What is the state of the Nigerian education sector? That’s the first question we need to ask ourselves,” he said.
The ASUU president also faulted the Ministerial Strategic plan of the minister which he said had no participation from state and local government in the country. “What is the level of state government participation in all this? You cannot stay in Abuja and you talk about primary education in states. It is just a platform to accessing donor funds. If we want to develop education, it should be in the national development plan. Any plan that does not flow from the national development plan is just floating. It does not have a root. This idea of strategic plan is what will call shenanigan. What are you planning? On what basis and how much information, data do you have? Before you can do this, you must have the accurate data. You must know the objectives that you want to plan. They are just empty plans,” he said.
Recall that the minister in 2016 launched a three-year education strategic plan for the country, stretching between 2016 and 2019. The plan known as ‘Education for Change: A Ministerial Strategic Plan 2016-2019’, had ‘ten pillars’ aimed to help revive the nation’s education. The ten pillars include; out of school children, Basic education, teacher education, adult literacy and special needs education, basic and secondary education curriculum and policy matters, technical and vocational education, tertiary education, education data and planning, ICTs in education and library services.
Also speaking, a lecturer in the Faculty of Education, University of Abuja, Dr Usman Manu stated that though education in the nation needed rescuing, before any declaration, the government needed to come out and explain to the nation what they meant by a state of emergency.
“They should address the nation, let’s know what they mean. It is the same thing when we spoke about autonomy in tertiary institutions. The government was looking at it in another way while ASUU was looking at it in another way. The government was saying that universities should generate funds themselves to take care of the schools but ASUU was saying, no, that the government should put infrastructures in place. So we need clarification on what they mean by state of emergency.
“I believe that the education sector needs a rescue. The government should put infrastructures in place, the learning facilities in schools are not enough for the teeming youths in the country that are in school and the hostels are dilapidated. Teachers, the institutions, the instructional facilities and the curriculum, all these need to be look into,” he said.
When LEADERSHIP contacted the ministry on the yet–to-be declared state of emergency, the director of Press and Public Relations, Mrs Priscilla Ihuoma stated that the planned state of emergency is still on course noting ‘there are protocols to be followed, but we are still on course’.
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