By Funmilayo Olasupo
THERE has been a noticeable decline in the quality of education and a deteriorating educational sector in the country.
Another noticeable thing is the increase in private education institutions in recent times in Nigeria.
Private institutions have dominated the society where children of well-to-do individuals who can afford the fees are being given good and quality education.
Meanwhile, the children of less privileged Nigerians are left in public schools where less attention is given to quality education.
It is recognised that formal education is on the concurrent legislative list in the 1999 Constitution in Nigeria suggesting that both the Federal and state governments are involved in the provision of formal education.
Thus, the importance of formal education in promoting economic growth and development cannot be overemphasised to promote overall economic activities.
It was the policy of the Federal Government on education that no Nigerian would be denied formal education because of poverty. To this end, the Federal Government accepted the responsibility to fuel formal education, which the impact up until now, has not been felt by Nigerians.
The acceptance was expressed in the 1976 and 2002 revised National Policy on Education (NPE) where it was stated categorically that â€œeducation in Nigeria is no more a private enterprise but a huge government ventureâ€. However, the impact of this declaration is yet to be felt.
Furthermore, the 1999 Constitution reiterated the NPEâ€™s provision when it stated that â€œgovernment shall eradicate illiteracy and to this end, government shall as when practicable provide free and compulsory universal primary, secondary and university education as well as free adult literacy programmesâ€.
Thus, both the NPE and the 1999 Constitution provided that the government at all levels in Nigeria should provide formal education for the citizenry. Yet there is lack of sufficient infrastructure, lecturer to student ratio is low and lecturers are not well paid.
These are some of the reasons for the just concluded Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) strike, which was unwarranted if government had been alive to its responsibility. That government allowed the strike to drag despite the fact that the issues raised by ASUU were true and germane was a clear demonstration that government is not concerned with the academics of Nigerian students.
Some important questions to be asked and answered are: What is the level of funding of formal education by the Federal Government level in Nigeria? What is the policy implication of formal education becoming a non-public good in Nigeria? And what is the response of the private sector to the development of public institutions?
Providing answers to these questions would no doubt help in determining the commitment of government to providing quality education for citizens to stem the increasing craze for education abroad. The recent Umar Mutallab saga clearly highlights the danger posed by the trend.
MissÂ Olasupo is a student of University of Jos.