President Muhammadu Buhari proposed a capital expenditure of N48 billion for the Ministry of Education in the 2020 appropriation bill he submitted to the National Assembly on Tuesday.
Mr Buhari also proposed N112 billion for the Universal Basic Education (UBEC).
However, the president did not mention the recurrent expenditure for the education sector in his budget speech.
An aggregate expenditure of N10.33 trillion is proposed for the Federal Government in the 2020 appropriation bill.
The expenditure estimate includes statutory transfers of N556.7 billion, non-debt recurrent expenditure of N4.88 trillion, and N2.14 trillion of capital expenditure (excluding the capital component of statutory transfers).
Debt service is estimated at N2.45 trillion, and provision for a Sinking Fund to retire maturing bonds issued to local contractors is N296 billion.
While capital expenditures are monies spent on acquiring or maintaining fixed assets, such as land, buildings, and equipment, recurrent spending refers mainly to expenditure on operations, wages and salaries, purchases of goods and services, and current grants and subsidies.
Details of the budget proposal revealed that Works and Housing got the highest capital project proposal with N262 billion, followed by Power with N127bn and Transportation got N123 billion then UBEC with N112 billion.
The president proposed N3.6 trillion for personnel and pension costs, giving that recurrent bill an increase of N620.28 billion when compared to the 2019 budget.
Mr Buhari said this addition is to cater for the “new minimum wage as well as our proposals to improve remuneration and welfare of our Police and Armed Forces.”
The president said the 2020 bill is based on the new VAT rate – which will help finance health, education, and infrastructural programmes.
Allocation to Education
The N48 billion proposed for capital expenditure for the education ministry for 2020 is lower than the N61.73 in 2018 and N56 million for the sector in 2017. However, it is higher than the capital expenditure of N47.2bn in 2019.
There is an increase in UBEC allocation for 2020, compared to 2017 and 2018. N112 billion was budgeted in 2020. In 2018, the budget was N109.06 billion and N95 billion in 2017.
However, a breakdown of the UBEC portion of the 2019 share as obtained from the Budget Office of the Federation show that the agency was allocated N113.9 billion.
The federal government budgeted N398billion for education in 2017. In 2018, Mr Buhari initially proposed N496.9billion, but it was raised to about N605.8billion by the National Assembly. Incidentally, the budget was later cut as part of the virement for the Independent National Electoral Commission to prepare for next February’s polls.
Although the N605 billion allocated to the education sector in 2018 was higher in naira terms than the N550 billion allocated in 2017, there was a decrease in percentage terms. The breakdown of the 2017 allocation was N398 billion for recurrent expenditure, N56 billion for capital expenditure and N95 billion to UBEC.
Mr Buhari had on December 19, 2018, presented N8.83trillion estimates to the National Assembly as the year’s budget. The executive summary of the proposals showed that the education sector got N620.5bn (about 7.05 per cent), marginal raise over the total of N605.8bn budgeted for the sector in 2018.
The Vanguard newspaper reported that the education sector got a paltry N3.9 trillion out of N55.19 trillion appropriated in 10 years.
The increase in the amount allocated to UBEC may be because the government is under pressure to address the menace of the increased number of out-of-school-children through measures that include its social intervention programme.
Also, the Federal Ministry of Education is expected to adequately cater for the 28 parastatals as well as 43 federal universities, over 25 federal polytechnics, 21 federal colleges of education and 104 federal unity schools directly under its care with the funding.
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Over the years, the country’s funding for education continued to rotate between five per cent, six per cent and seven per cent of the national budget. Premium Times reported how UNESCO recommended 15 to 20 per cent allocation to education in the national budgets of developing countries.
Mr Buhari and the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, had assured the education sector of remarkable improvement in funding in 2019.
Mr Buhari, during a visit to France in November 2018, told the Nigerian community there that education would be better funded that year.
“We are currently reviewing investments in the entire infrastructure of the country like road, rail and power, including investing more in education. We will certainly need to do more in education,” he said.
But, in the 2019 budget, the Federal Government still stuck to the five to seven per cent to the sector.
According to UNICEF and UBEC, Nigeria has about 10.5 million out- of- school children, the world’s highest.
The UN agency said this estimation includes children attending non-formal education.
Also, tertiary institutions union workers also alleged that poor funding has been the cause of incessant strikes in the education sector.
Scholars have on different occasions considered budgetary spendings on the education sector as insufficient to address the myriads of challenges associated with the sector.