The number of children abandoning their education despite several programmes initiated by the government to improve learning in Nigeria keeps rising yearly.
Challenges including insecurity, development of schools and low budget allocations have been outlined as major factors contributing to this consistent increase. However, the figures are likely not to drop as economic indicators show that insufficiency is threatening the survival of several households.
According to the United Nations Children Fund reports, 10.5milion children in Nigeria are not going to school despite access to free education. This report was said to be unreliable after a survey by the Demographic Health survey showed an increase to 13.2million children out of in 2015. Similarly, the former president Olusegun Obasanjo, in a separate ceremony, said the figures had increased to 14 million in 2020.
While the northern part of the country still holds a greater share in the estimated figures due to recurrent insecurity, observations have shown that across Nigeria, families might struggle to send their children to school as a result of increasing spendings in the economy.This rise ranges from hikes in tariffs, food prices, inflation rate, fuel prices and household materials.
Faced with lockdown restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic, the economy of Nigeria has sharply increased in inflation rate, food prices, household materials, crude oil price and forex. Also, after months of contraction, the country entered into another recession, a minus 6.1% growth; the steepest the nigeria economy has gone in 10 years.
Nigeria also grew in poverty and unemployment rate as the COVID-19 led to job loss in some sectors, while other organisations struggled to pay salaries.While 82 million Nigerians are still spending more to eat, a consistent rise in the economy is likely to affect families who struggle to put their children into schools.
Turning the tides
The Nigerian government approved a total of N1164.8 billion for the education sector in 2021’s budget. This is 8.3 percent of the total 13.58 trillion budget.
N771.46billion was allocated to the federal ministry of Education and its agencies both recurrent and capital expenditures. N70.5billion was allocated to the Universal Basic Education Commission while N323.29 billion was allocated to the Tertiary Education Trust Fund for infrastructure projects.
The National Bureau of Statistics, in a COVID-19 monitoring survey, reported lack of money as the second reason for children not attending school in 2020 following the lockdown, Nigerians look forward to a revamp in the economy for 2021.