Investigations: Underfunding, Neglect Bane of Education Sector in Nigeria
NEWS DIGEST – The National President of the Academic Staffs Union of Universities (ASUU), Prof Biodun Ogunyemi had said that the Federal Government is underfunding Education in an exclusive chat with The News Digest. He also said that Universities still charge indirect tuition fees. The News Digest in this report takes a critical appraisal at the budget for Education in Nigeria over the previous years and its impact in the Nigerian Education sector including how strike actions and seeming underfunding has affected it.
When Tunde (not real name) got admission into his University, he had dreams of ending his Bachelor of Science Educational pursuit within four years in Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile- Ife, South West Nigeria. But five years down the line, he is not sure of when he will be done as strike action has delayed his dream of becoming an Accountant.
Recently, the Federal Government declared that it is illegal for Universities to charge tuition fees but can charge other forms of levies.
Every Year, the Nigerian Budget for Education which is the responsibility of the Ministry of Education to discharge raises eyebrow due to the level of budgetary allocation percentage Education gets.
The Nigerian budget for Education is expected to cater for 36 federal universities, 25 federal polytechnics, 22 federal colleges of education and 104 federal unity schools.
In 2017, President Muhammadu Buhari released a budget of N7.298t with the Ministry of Education expected to gulp N398.01b in recurrent expenditure. Besides, under capital expenditure, it was stated in the budget that the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) will get N92 billion and Education N50billion. Overall, a total of N540.01bn will be expended on education sector in 2017.
Trends of Nigerian Education budget from 2017 shows; N540.01bn(2017) and N369.6bn(2016). From ,2011 it moved to N306.3bn to N400.15bn in 2012, to N426.53bn in 2013, to N493bn in 2014, to 492bn in 2015.
When in 2011 ASUU went on strike and grounded the activities of Nigerian Universities, media reports suggested Psychologists as stating that the strike action would have negative effect on the Students Some of who may be destabilized. However, a bigger showdown was awaiting the sector.
In 2013, ASUU embarked on a five months strike as disagreements spread on the issue of funding the Education sector with many Students reported to have traveled out of the country due to frustration caused by the strike action. Polytechnic students had their fair share when in 2014 Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP) went on strike for over one year on similar circumstances to protest issues on salaries.
ASUP were demanding the implementation of CONTISS 15 Migration for the lower cadres in the polytechnics and the release of the White Paper on the visitations to federal polytechnics more than one year after the exercise, as well as the failure of the federal government to commence a Needs Assessment for Nigerian polytechnics.
Also, ASUP demanded an end to the HND/B.Sc dichotomy. Although years after, the HND and BSC Dichotomy has been resolved on paper and not in practice. The Punch Newspapers reported the agony faced by Business personnel and Students during one of the recent strike actions.
“We are suffering because of the strike called by the Oyo State schools. Now that a bigger strike is ongoing, I am not so sure of our chances of recovery from the losses that we have incurred. It could go on for many weeks unless the issues leading to the action are quickly resolved,” a business owner lamented.
In 2016, ASUU also embarked on another strike action, although a one-week warning strike.
In 2017, ASUU embarked on a five weeks strike before calling it off on a conditional note.
Stakeholders are unanimous that strike is caused by underfunding of the Education sector.
Time Line of ASUU National Strike Between 1999-2017 1999 -→ 5 months 2001 -→ 3 months 2002 -→ 2 weeks 2003 -→ 6 months → (ended in 2004) 2005 -→ 3 days 2006 -→ 1 week 2007 -→ 3 months 2008 -→ 1 week 2009 -→ 4 months 2010 -→ 5 months and 1 week 2011—3 months started in December (ended in 2012) 2013 -→ 5months and seventeen days 2014-None 2015-None 2016-One Week 2017-Five weeks
In all, ASUU alone has gone on strike for 38months and two weeks since 1999 till 2017 with ASUU speaking on another possible strike action in 2018.
ANY UNIVERSITY RANKED AMONG THE TOP 1000 IN THE WORLD?
Checks by The News Digest show that despite the incessant actions and the continuous under-funding, only University of Ibadan is ranked among the best 1000 University in the world with other Universities far below. Commentators who spoke to The News Digest suggested that disruption in academic activities and lack of facilities must have been responsible for this development.
University of Ibadan secured a spot in the top 978 ranked universities in the world. In the ranking released by the Times Higher Education, Nigeria’s premier university was ranked 801 alongside several others. UI was also the only Nigerian university to make the list. Earlier in 2016, the Academic Ranking of World Universities (AWRU) and the Center for World Universities Ranking (CWUR) released a list of the top 500 and 1000 world universities respectively and no Nigerian university was on the list. CWUR said that Nigerian universities were not considered for the ranking because of lack of quality research.
Universities like Obafemi Awolowo University, University of Lagos amongst others failed to meet the cut-off mark.
CORRUPTION IN THE SYSTEM
A report by SERAP(Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project) in February 2018, showed that there is corruption going on unchecked in Nigerian Universities
“The report which used the University of Lagos and Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria as case studies identified other cases of corruption in the university system to include: “bribery to get a position; NYSC mobilization before graduation; facilitating fake transcripts; short-circuiting employment procedures; auctioning university assets without authorization; politicized disciplinary action; inflated contracts, admission irregularities and racketeering, result falsification; nepotism; sexual harassment; examination question leakages, abetting examination malpractices; and deliberate poor invigilation of examinations.”
SERAP said it also found cases of fund diversion and Certificate racketeering.
“We also found several unresolved cases of diversion of university funds for personal use; embezzlement, mismanagement, unmerited allocation of hostel accommodation, discrimination in the allocation of staff quarters; certificate/transcript racketeering; improper use of university assets; inflation of cost of contracts, award of contracts to friends or relatives; and admission racketeering by non-staff.”
Mr Femi Falana in a report published by PREMIUM TIMES in 2018, had accused that systematic corruption is allowed to thrive in the Nigerian Education sector
Femi Falana, a human rights lawyer, said over N200 billion was disbursed by TETFund to Nigerian universities in 2017. “Neither ASUU nor any of the campus unions monitored the disbursement of the funds,” Mr. Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, said “Also, how many companies are paying two per cent of their annual profit to support our university system? The bulk of the funds meant to improve the universities end up in the pocket of the contractors. Three vice chancellors are currently standing trial for looting funds allocated for running the universities.” Mr. Falana also said, “Based on the 1992 FG-ASUU Agreement the federal government was compelled to enact the Tertiary Education Trust Fund Act. The Act has established the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND) as an intervention agency charged with the responsibility for managing, disbursing and monitoring the education tax to public tertiary institutions in Nigeria. Pursuant to section 1 of the Act every company shall contribute education tax of two per cent of its annual profit to the TETFUND.”
Femi Falana went on to Lament that no Federal University or University has come out to declare how much they earn for conducting Post UTME Examinations.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Thursday, March 30, 2017 had arraigned the duo of the Vice Chancellor of the Federal University of Technology, Akure (FUTA), Professor Adebiyi G. Daramola, and the Bursar, Emmanuel Ayodeji A. Oresegun, before Justice W. R. Olamide of the Ondo State High Court, Akure on a 9-count charge bordering on obtaining money under false pretense, abuse of office, misappropriation of funds and conspiracy to steal to the tune of N156,984,455.33 (One Hundred and Fifty Six Million, Nine Hundred and Eighty Four Thousand, Four Hundred and Fifty Five Naira, Thirty Three Kobo).
Prof Adebiyi’s case is one among many corruption cases in Nigerian Universities. Recently an Audit report indicted the University of Ibadan of been financially culpable for having inconsistent reports. The News Digest had reached out to the Vice Chancellor, Prof Idowu Olayinka who denied any wrong doing stating that the administrative issues are being resolved.
Our investigation has shown that most Nigerian Universities cannot boast of Lecture theatres to accommodate their students comfortably. Many also lack research facilities and thus one of the reasons why they can’t compete at the world level.
A Lecturer in one of the Federal Universities who spoke to The News Digest under anonymity said, “You cannot expect same quality when nothing is funded in our Education sector, even teaching is tasking”.
To confirm these developments, the News Digest visited the University of Abuja and Obafemi Awolowo University. In University of Abuja, except for the New Hostel being built, the University boasts of poor accommodation while in Obafemi Awolowo University, students groan under absence of lecture theatres enough to accommodate them. In Obafemi Awolowo University for instance, Students now receive lectures at the varsity Amphitheatre meant for shows and programs due to lack of facilities.
ASUU President, Prof Biodun Ogunyemi had told this Newspaper that underfunding of the Nigerian Education sector remains a major issue arguing that the Union does not voluntarily go on strike “There is the issue of funding. We don’t usually take pride in going on strike. It is when they don’t listen to us that we act” he said.
He suggested that the Federal Government should fund the Education sector more.
The ASUU President at one time told this reporter that the Union is not against the accountability in the universities but only if there are structures on ground.
Nasir Faggie, former ASUU President has said that universities need 1.3trillion in 2016 to reposition Nigerian varsities.
Many stakeholders who spoke to The News Digest opined that more funds be pumped into the Education sector, but more monitoring should be done to see how the funds are spent instead of leaving them without monitoring.
A lecturer, Mr Segun said “If there can be more sincerity in the Nigerian Education sector things will be better. It is not about funding alone, it is beyond that. Much things still needs to be done” he told this Newspaper.