It Begins at Home: The Crisis of Education in Nigeria
Written by Morenike Adebayo on October 13, 2017
Do you know that Nigeria has the largest number of out-of-school children in the world? And that the percentage of Nigerian children enrolled in primary school has decreased since 2007? The magnitude of the Nigerian education crisis cannot be overstated: Ten point five million children are out of school. Something need be done about these alarming statistics.
Nigeria’s lack of education is most prominent in rural and poverty-stricken urban communities. Families in these communities tend to withdraw their children from school at an early age so that they can generate more revenue for the family. The children then learn a trade, forcing their undeveloped young minds into a life of hardship marked by a lack of social mobility.
Very often, these children’s lives are endangered as they work in big cities alone or in dangerous fields such as construction sites. The issue is worsened by the fact that Nigerians often patronise small businesses which utilises child labour. We have become accustomed to buying products from underage vendors and giving odd jobs to illiterate children.
The danger of patronising child labour is that Nigerians have become desensitised to seeing children who should be in school working jobs meant for adults. According to the National Policy on Education, education in Nigeria is free and compulsory for the first nine years. However, this rule is offset by the fact that most Nigerian families cannot afford to send their children to school for the prescribed time.
Although public schools are free, expenses such as purchasing books and uniforms often deter parents from sending their children to school. In the case of orphaned children, they are usually left without access to any education at all. The federal government must do more to safeguard the futures of Nigerian children.
School supplies should be subsidised so that free and universal education is truly free and universal. A vast increase in the number of schools need to be seen throughout urban and rural Nigeria. The government must create a large-scale movement towards widespread free public education for all Nigerian children for even longer than the required nine years.
We as a people must consider the long-term benefits of improving education in Nigeria. It has aptly been said that education is the most important factor in economic development. As more youths are given the opportunity to be educated, all sectors of the economy will flourish.
Education reform will bring about an increase in the number of capable technical staff for Nigeria’s sectors. Improved education means more doctors, lawyers, engineers, professors, oil tycoons, and so forth. Improved education means an enduring boost to Nigeria’s economy and an upsurge in economic prosperity and human development.
Around forty-four percent of the Nigerian population is less than sixteen years old. We as a nation must do more to provide this cohort with the tools needed to excel in the modern world. May God Bless the people of our beloved Country, Nigeria.
This commentary was written by Funmilayo Adetokunbo A-A, a political and International Affairs Analyst, based in Somerset, England, United Kingdom.
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