In the past five years, the Nigerian government spent about 700 billion naira in addition to the budgetary allocations to improve the country’s education sector. Nonetheless, many believe that the government still has a long way to go.
“The whole idea of the 20th Nigeria Economic Summit is to focus specifically on Nigeria’s educational sector. The education sector is one of the greatest pillars holding the Transformation Agenda of President [Goodluck Jonathan]. One of the other pillars is, human capital development. The only way we can develop human capital is through education,” Bashir Yaguda, Nigeria’s National Planning Minister told CNBC Africa.
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President Jonathan launched the Transformation Agenda in 2011 which is aimed at enhancing economic growth and development in the non-oil sectors in the country such as agriculture, solid minerals, manufacturing and the service sectors.
The agenda is a summary of how the government plans to deliver projects, programmes and key priority policies from 2011 to 2015.
“[The president] was a teacher, a lecturer, and is a scholar so that passion for education is there and he is trying to make sure that all the policies are tailored towards building Nigeria’s education.”
Yaguda believes that Nigeria has to be a knowledge based country and a knowledge based economy however, the only way to do that, is by promoting education.
“There are a lot of programmes that the president has rolled out in order to fast track the development of education in Nigeria,” he said.
Last year, the government inaugurated the National Steering Committee which is a creation of the State Education Programme Investment Project (SEPIP) to address the major problems threatening the country’s education sector.
“For the first time, a sitting president in the span of two years established 12 universities across the country. Nine of them are in the north in order to address the educational gap between the south and the North,” he explained.
According to Yaguda, the government also has programmes for the education of girl children which has been a serious issue in the northern parts of the country. There are also programmes for the children who drop out of schools. In addition, the statutory budgetary allocation to education almost tripled from 224 billion naira to 634 billion naira between 2007 and 2013.
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“You can see the scale up in the budget allocation in 2014. The ministers of education, the officials of education from primary to tertiary levels are being monitored,” he added.