Nigeria’s education sector has again been allocated much lower than the 26 percent of national budget recommended by the United Nations.
The global organisation recommended the budgetary benchmark to enable nations adequately cater for rising education demands.
But in the proposal presented to the National Assembly on Tuesday, President Muhammadu Buhari allocated only 7.04% of the 8.6 trillion 2018 budget to the education.
The total sum allocated to the sector is 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.
The allocation is lower than the 7.4 percent the government gave the education sector in the of N7.4 trillion 2017 budget.
The breakdown of the N550 billion allocated in 2017 was N398 billion for recurrent expenditure, N56 billion for capital expenditure and N95 billion to UBEC.
Although the N605 billion allocated to the sector this year is higher in naira terms than the N550 billion allocated in 2017, there is a decrease in percentage terms.
This decrease, apart from expanding the gap with respect to the UN recommendation, is also in spite of the government committing to increase spending on education following a strike from August 13 by the Academic Union of Universities, ASUU, that forced Nigerian universities to shut down until the strike was called off on September 18.
The university teachers were protesting poor funding of universities and the failure of government to implement an agreement it signed in 2009 with ASUU to improve facilities and enhance staff welfare at the institutions.
The Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities, SSANU, Non-Academic Staff Union of Universities, NASU and the National Association of Academic Technologists, NAAT, commenced a nationwide strike on September 11, although it was called off 10 days later.
To pacify the teachers and other workers, the government undertook to increase funding of the universities and to implement the 2009 agreement and others, which also increased the financial commitment of the government to the universities.
The Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics, ASUP, is currently threatening to embark on an indefinite strike of its own on Monday November 13 unless the federal government pays its 2016 shortfalls and all outstanding arrears.
Apart from that commitment to provide more fund for universities, the government is also under pressure to address the menace of increased number of out-of-school-children through measures that include its social intervention programme.
According to UNICEF, Nigeria has about 10.5 million out- of- school children, the world’s highest.