Although far from the UNESCO benchmark, Buhari comes closer to the promise of funding education
The education allocation in the 2022 draft budget shows President Muhammadu Buhari has taken small steps towards fulfilling his pledge to increase education spending by 50% between 2022 and 2023.
But despite the increase from last year’s figures, the proposal, measured as a percentage of the total spending plan, falls short of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Social Organization’s benchmark. culture (UNESCO) from 15 to 20% of the annual budget which the president has recently committed to achieve.
Three months ago, at the 2021 edition of the World Education Summit co-hosted in London by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, Mr Buhari pledged to ensure that Nigeria meets UNESCO’s international criteria after years of failure.
At the summit in late July, the Nigerian leader was among 19 heads of state and government who pledged to increase their spending on education.
The global event saw Mr Buhari pledge to increase Nigeria’s annual national spending on education by 50% over the next two years and 100% by 2025, beyond the global benchmark. by 20%.
Mr. Buhari, who made the commitment in a document titled; “The Heads of State’s Call to Action on Education Finance,” said this effort would ensure Nigeria’s investment in the sector meets the globally accepted standard of 20% of budget allocations.
In the words of Mr. Buhari: “I join my brother, His Excellency, Uhuru Kenyatta, President of the Republic of Kenya, in affirming our commitment to improve learning outcomes in our respective countries by ensuring equitable access to quality and inclusive education for all our citizens, with particular emphasis on the girl child.
“We fully endorse the call for a more efficient use of resources and a significant increase in investment in education by strengthening institutions, promoting greater adoption of technology, strengthening the capacities of our teachers and mobilizing additional financial resources through legal frameworks and deliberate interventions on sustainable development. based.
“In this regard, we commit to gradually increasing our annual national education spending by 50% over the next two years and up to 100% by 2025 beyond the global benchmark of 20%. So let’s raise our hand in solidarity to build a more secure and prosperous future for our children. “
Proposed budget 2022
A review of the President’s 2022 budget proposal presented to the National Assembly found that of the 16.39 trillion naira proposed for next year, 1.29 trillion naira, or 7.9 percent, was allocated to education.
The budget proposal passed second reading in the Senate.
Meanwhile, out of a budget of 13.08 trillion naira for 2021, only 742.5 billion naira, or 5.68% of the total, has been allocated to education.
Based on Mr Buhari’s pledge three months ago in the UK, a 50 percent increase from this year’s 742.5 billion naira would bring the allocation to 1.11 trillion naira; an indication that next year’s allocation to education (1.29 trillion naira) has increased by more than 50 percent from last year.
Although the president has taken this year’s allocation a notch above what he promised by giving 1.290 billion naira to the education sector, the allocation is still less than 10% of the annual budget. , indicating a failure to meet the UNESCO recommendation.
Experts praised the president for the increase and keeping his promise, but insisted that anything below UNESCO’s benchmark remains insignificant in addressing the challenges of the education sector.
“For Nigerians to truly benefit from a solid and quality education that will lead to national development, anything less than the UNESCO recommendation, as amplified in the Abidjan Principles, would not work”, said Philip Jakpor, director of programs, corporate responsibility and public participation in Africa. (CAPPA).
UNESCO: History of missed commitments
In addition to his engagement in London, Mr. Buhari, as a candidate for the presidency during the electoral campaigns since 2010, had pledged to respect UNESCO’s recommendation.
Although UNESCO has clarified that the recommendation is aimed at developing countries, Mr Buhari said 11 years ago that he would devote 26% of Nigeria’s budget to education if elected.
As a candidate for the presidency of the former Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), Mr. Buhari presented in October 2010 a document entitled “Education Partners in Free, Fair and Credible Elections: My Agenda for rescue of education ”to the Joint Action of Education Stakeholders. Coalition (JESAC) in Abuja.
Mr Buhari at the time cited UNESCO’s alleged 26% recommendation, promising to respect it if elected.
“I can assure you that I will propose a minimum of 26% of the national budget in accordance with the well-founded recommendation of UNESCO, in consultation and cooperation with the National Assembly. This percentage, I intend to increase with time and results, ”he told Punch newspaper.
“I don’t remember reading any policy in Nigeria that sets out strategies to meet this United Nations benchmark. Do you? Nigeria is grouped in the worst performing category for this index. Mind you, this has nothing to do with wealth, as some much poorer countries rank higher than Nigeria, ”added Buhari.
However, since becoming president, his highest allocation to the education sector is 7.9% of the budget, far from the 15-20% recommended by UNESCO for countries like Nigeria.
In fact, over the past decade the highest the sector has received was 10.7% in 2015, which was proposed by former president Goodluck Jonathan in 2014.
There has been a downward trend over the past six years under President Buhari, with the 2021 Appropriations Bill of 5.68 being the lowest.
In 2011, education received 393.8 billion naira or 9.3% of the total budget; 468.3 billion naira or 9.86 percent in 2012; 499.7 billion naira or 10.1% in 2013; 494.7 billion naira or 10.5% in 2014; and 484.2 billion naira or 10.7% in 2015.
In 2016, the allocation was N369. 6 billion or 7.9% of the total budget; N550. 5 billion in 2017, or 7.4% of the total budget; 605.8 billion naira in 2018 or 7.04%; N620.5 billion or 7.05 percent in 2019 and N671. 07 billion or 6.7% in 2020.
Breakdown of the 2022 proposal
Primarily, the 2022 funding proposal includes 875.93 billion naira for the Federal Ministry of Education and its agencies for their recurrent and capital expenditures; 108.10 billion naira for the Universal Basic Education Commission as well as 306.00 billion naira for transfers to the higher education trust fund.
Another breakdown showed that 174.3 billion naira was allocated to the ministry’s capital expenditure while 662.7 billion naira and 38.8 billion naira were allocated to personnel and overhead costs. which summarizes recurring expenses.
While capital expenditures are amounts spent on the acquisition or maintenance of fixed assets, such as land, buildings, and equipment, recurrent expenditures primarily relate to operating expenses, wages and salaries. , purchases of goods and services, and current subsidies and subsidies.
The proposed capital expenditure has increased in 2022 from the 127.3 billion naira for the same goal in 2021.
UBEC funding to coordinate education at primary and lower secondary levels also improved from the 77.6 billion naira allocated in the outgoing year.
Experts attributed the increase in UBEC funding to pressure on the government to address the threat of out-of-school children through initiatives such as social intervention programs.
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Meanwhile, the bulk of the education budget will go to the 28 parastatal enterprises under the Ministry of Education as well as 43 federal universities, more than 25 federal polytechnics, 21 federal colleges of education and 104 federal schools. of unity.
Union of Academic Staff of Universities (ASUU) national president Emmanuel Osodeke said the sector is underfunded because the government does not see it as a priority.
“There is no change in the system; they still don’t have education as a priority. If this were defined as a priority, the government would be ready to fund it, but it cannot make it a priority because their children are not even here, ”he said in a telephone interview with PREMIUM TIMES.
“As Nigerians, and not just ASUU, we need to pressure this government to make education a priority, just as the sane countries do. For every sector in this country, you have to go through an education system, at primary, secondary or higher level.
“If our universities function perfectly like other universities, a lot of people will come to Nigeria from other countries, with hard currency that can energize the system. But all you see now is Nigerian students leaving the country, even to Ghana and the Republic of Benin, ”the donation added.
The ASUU President also stressed the need for the government to honor any commitments made, saying; “The president insisted that in two years there will be a 50% increase in the education budget, but we do not see any seriousness or any attempt to implement this. “
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