2018 budget: 7.04 per cent allocation to education unacceptable – ERC tells FG

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The Education Rights Campaign (ERC) has described the 7.04 per cent allocation to education in the proposed 2018 budget as unacceptable, as it condemned it in strong terms, calling for upward review of budgetary allocation to education to meet the United Nations Education and Scientific Organisation, UNESCO’s recommendation of 26%.

It also demanded for “democratic management of schools” to increase academic excellence and change the trend of decadence in the sector, as it urged government to honour all agreements reached with unions in the education sector.

This was contained in a press statement signed by the National Coordinator of the organisation, Comrade Hassan Taiwo Soweto, a copy which was sent to DAILY POST on Thursday.

The statement said that the much talked about efforts of the present administration in the education sector was not more than lip service, commending National Association of Polytechnic Students (NAPS) and other groups for condemning the budget.

It implored all the unions in the sector to brace up and move beyond talks in order to rescue the “dying sector ” from total collapse.

“The 2018 budget proposal, presented to the National Assembly on Tuesday, 7th November, indicates that a meagre N605.8 billion is earmarked for the funding of the education sector, in spite of the widely acknowledged crises bedeviling the sector. As with previous budgets, the proposed allocation to the education sector is a far cry from the 26% budgetary allocation to education as recommended by UNESCO for developing countries like Nigeria.

“On the surface, there appears to be a fractional increase in the education budget compared to the N550 billion earmarked for the sector in the present 2017 budget. But as Premium Times of 8th November reported: “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.”

“Against the backdrop of collapse of public education in the country, the 2018 budget proposal, if passed into law by the National Assembly, would further compound the problems that students and education workers face on daily basis on account of underfunding of public education. Already, managements of schools are increasing fees astronomically, and the University of Benin is the latest example in this regard. As experience has shown in schools where fees have been astronomically increased, the policy of squeezing the pockets of parents dry in order to run schools is indeed incapable of resuscitating moribund academic facilities.

“The budget has equally exposed the insincerity of government in respect of its promises to meet the demands of education workers’ unions, especially ASUU, for upward funding of the education sector. This means that the government would continue to grapple with industrial actions by these unions in the coming year, if the national assembly fails to rectify this error and sufficiently increase the budget to education.

“Days after this budget was submitted to the National Assembly, the President delivered another academic talk on the problems with the nation’s education system at the Education Summit of the Federal Executive Council. We find it completely deceitful of the President to diagnose same government-induced problems with the nation’s education system, when the underfunding of this system is at the epicentre of the Nigeria’s education crisis. Like the politicians before him, President Buhari continues to draw a parallel line between quality education and national growth, forgetting that there cannot be sustainable growth without a value-creating human population,” the statement read.

The statement, therefore, called on all critical stakeholders in the sector to press for immediate upward review of the allocation by consistently making their demands known to the government before the budget will be passed.

“Therefore, we urge the students unions, National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), NAPS, NUT, ASUU and other unions in the education sector not to fold their arms but to immediately hold meetings of their organs and collectively call for mass actions involving students, education workers, parents and members of the public”, the statement added.

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