As the World marks the 2021 International Education Day, a Non-Governmental Organization, (NGO), ActionAid Nigeria, has called for an upward review of allocation to education from 12 percent to 15 percent of public expenditure.
The Executive Director, Ene Obi, who spoke in an interview said ActionAid Nigeria and other campaigners view education as a human right as enshrined in article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a declaration which calls for free and compulsory elementary education.
Ene recalls that Nigeria is a signatory to several international treaties including the Convention on the Right of the Child and the Global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which stipulate that countries shall make education accessible to all.
She argued that as a developing nation, education is a vital tool for transformational change and is critical for sustainable development, hence the need to according it more financial allocation.
She lamented that COVID-19 pandemic that led to a global disruption of learning, this has affected the lives of many children due to the closure of schools, universities, and other institutions of learning in year 2020.
“Other factors such as insecurity challenges, socio-economic factors, infrastructural deficit have continued to affect education in the Country.”
She said this year’s theme: ‘Recover and Revitalize Education for the COVID-19 Generation’ hopes to highlight commitments and follow-up actions taken to protect education through the recovery, increase inclusion and combat drop-out.
It also intends to celebrate initiatives being led by governments, educators, organizations from global to grassroots efforts—as well as partnerships demonstrating the potential to recommit education to the principles of equity and relevance.
“It will also highlight best practices in laws and policies on equitable finance for education that effectively and efficiently target the most disadvantaged via a tool featured on UNESCO’s Global Education Monitoring Report website, PEER.
“Give voice to the COVID-19 generation to express their concerns and aspirations in the face of a future marked by an economic recession and climate change.
Speaking further, Obi noted that the commitment of all stakeholders which was sought to ensure states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) meet up with the obligation of ensuring that every child resume to a safe learning environment had not been matched with action due to the partial or non-compliance to COVID-19 protocols.
She said measures such as provision of hand washing points in strategic places within the school environment was not taken. even as many of the schools still lack potable or running water for hand washing.
She equally noted that only very few schools are fully complying with Covid-19 protocol, inadequate funding, poor infrastructure, lack of water supply and shortage of competent teachers amongst other factors remain key challenges which prevent schools from fully complying with the provisions for safe school reopening.
She therefore called on the Federal Government to revise and increase allocation for education to 15% – 20% of public expenditure.
“Increase the tax base by capturing the informal sector to increase resources, working towards a minimum tax to GDP ratio of 20%.
“Provide free quality education for all and halt the dangerous trends of privatization and commercialization of education and ensure inclusive educational systems and institutions.
The NGO also wants the federal government to improve the quality of teaching through adequate recruitment, renumeration and continued teacher training and re-training.
“To ensure evaluation of existing safety measures in schools to identify gaps and take corrective measures followed by regular risk assessment at the Federal, State and LGA level.
“Provide leadership and funds to support logistics of monitoring teams at all levels; and enforce compliance to COVID-19 safety rules and measures.
ActionAid Nigeria further appealed to government to braze up security architecture in places where insecurity has affected learning.