Today we turn our attention to Nigeria’s education sector. The sector faces many challenges, one of which is the shortage of academic staff across all levels of education. However, the quality of education is the most critical due to insufficient investment. Human capital depends heavily on both education and health. Vacancies across specific sectors of the economy are linked to the absence of skilled labour.
- In its latest unemployment/underemployment watch, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) revealed that within the labour force in Q3 2018, 26.9 million people had never received any form of formal education and this group represented 30% of the captured labour force population.
- Last year, the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) estimated that over ten million Nigerian children were out of school, with 69% situated in the northern region.
- The FGN’s inability to combat the poor quality of education as well as dilapidated teaching facilities has led to a high level of ‘student export’ amongst the middle-to-high income class in the country. According to the US Consular General, John Bray, over 11,500 Nigerian students are studying in accredited US colleges and universities. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) disclosed that in Africa, Nigeria is the second largest country with its students studying overseas after Morocco.
- Aside from the inadequate facilities, a restructuring of curricula to reflect Nigeria’s current economic needs is essential as there is oversaturation in certain professional fields while others lack skilled employees. Perhaps, polytechnics across the country could be revamped to offer courses that will equip individuals for career paths often cited as “blue collar” and usually captured in the informal sector.
- Another pressing issue within Nigeria’s educational system is the lack of highly trained teachers and lecturers. The relatively low salaries offered to academic staff in comparison to salary structures in other sectors has opened a window for sub-par tutors to fill the gap.
- To boost employability, the authorities need to invest in human capital development, starting with the revamp of the basic education system. We understand the FGN has received a grant of US$611m from the World Bank towards this objective.
- There has also been private sector driven educational relief packages geared towards empowering disadvantaged children in slums to achieve their full potential, through the provision of educational scholarships. Notwithstanding, more resources are still required.
- The NBS national accounts data series shows that education accounted for just 2.1% of GDP in Q3 2018.