The most populous country in Africa is facing one of its biggest challenges, a result of years of consequent neglect of the education sector. Nigeria has the world’s highest number of children that are out of school according to statistics from the UN, with 10.5 million out-of-school children.
With a current population of over 180 million, and expected to be the world’s third most populous country in 2025, Nigeria could be seating on a ticking bomb.
Since independence the country’s education sector has gone through corrosive degeneration, most times owing to the military regimes that have ruled the country for over four decades. A serious brain-drain during the military eras contributed towards the degrading of most of the tertiary institutions.
In a statement made by the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF), primary school enrollment has increased in recent years, but net attendance is only about 70 per cent, but Nigeria still has 10.5 million out-of-school children – the world’s highest number. 60 percent of those children are in northern Nigeria.
Nigeria has never earmarked more than 10 percent of its budget for education, a stark contrast to the 26 percent recommended by the United Nations. The 2017 budget had a mere 6 percent of the budget allocated to education.
For a country that was once considered the giant of Africa, serious gloom hangs over it. With Boko Haram raging in the north and agitation for Biafra in the east alongside pockets of violence in the south where the oil producing states are, the instability in the country is a huge problem. A big contribution to this is the lack of resources adequately spread out.
UNICEF also stated that increased enrolment rates have created challenges in ensuring quality education, as resources are spread more thinly. It is not rare to see cases where there are 100 pupils for one teacher, or where students learn under trees because of a lack of classrooms.
The Nigerian government doesn’t seem to have clear plans in place to address this issue anytime soon. If education is the gateway to securing the future of young people, the future of Nigeria’s children is in peril unless urgent interventions are implemented.