THE Nigerian education sector for most part of 2022 was at the forefront news immediately after the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) declared a four-week warning strike on February 14 following the Federal Government’s failure to implement a 2009 agreement and other unmet demands of the union.
The strike affected all federal and most state universities, as students were forced out of campuses to return home.
Affected students hoped the impasse would end soon, but they waited in vain for eight months before ASUU suspended the action on October 14.
While the crisis lasted, ASUU, on one side, the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment and the Federal Ministry of Education, on the other, locked horns and exchanged tantrums that exacerbated the stalemate.
ASUU accused both ministers, Chris Ngige and Adamu Adamu, respectively, of insensitivity and showing a lackadaisical attitude to resolving the crisis. But the ministers always said they were available for talks.
After failed attempts to force the striking lecturers back to work, including the “no work, no pay” threat, the government headed for the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN) and secured an injunction ordering ASUU back to work.
In what appears to be a move to break the union’s ranks, the federal government registered the Congress of University Academics (CONUA), a splinter group from ASUU, on October 4
ASUU appeals ruling, calls off strike
The union then backed down on October 14 and ended its strike after the intervention by the leadership of the National Assembly, headed by Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila.
Crisis remains unresolved
Meanwhile, the government has yet to come to terms with paying ASUU’s salaries backlog. On October 31, ASUU received alerts of half salary for the month to fulfil the threat that the government would not pay the group for its strike period.
But there have been moves by the union to make the government pay the backlog salaries. There have been meetings and protests among the university union chapters, raising concerns that there could be another round of downing tools.
The ICIR reported that ASUU went on strike for over 600 days under President Muhammadu Buhari’s government.
The government has also refused to pay CONUA.
However, CONUA has threatened to sue the government over its withheld salaries.
Polytechnics, colleges of education lecturers also went on strike
Like ASUU, the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics went on a two-week warning strike in May. But the government’s swift intervention to the group’s demands resulted in the strike ending on the 28 of the same month.
Similarly, the Colleges of Education Academic Staff Union (COEASU) issued a three-week strike notice over unmet demands on May 25. The strike started after three weeks and dragged till August 12, when the association called it off.
I have failed – Minister
Following the chain of crises bedevilling the sector, the Minister of Education Adamu Adamu described himself as a failure on November 4.
Apart from recurring strikes under his watch, there has been a string of abductions of students and teachers in several schools in the country, especially in the North.
The ICIR reported in January how parents withdrew their wards from schools in Niger and Kaduna States because of exacerbating insecurity.
The ICIR also reported in October how 30 schools remained shut for over a year in Zamfara State over insecurity.
More universities, others approved
The government approved one federal university -David Nweze Umahi Federal University of Medical Sciences, Uburu, Ohaozara LGA of Ebonyi State – in the year. It approved three new state universities during the year. They are the Shehu Shagari University of Education, Sokoto, the Enugu State University of Medical and Applied Sciences, Igbo-Eno, and the University of Ilesa, Osun State.
There were also three federal polytechnics, namely Federal Polytechnic Umunnoechi, Abia State; Federal Polytechnic Kabo, Kano State; and Federal Polytechnic Orogun, Delta State.
No state polytechnic was created within the year. But there are ten private polytechnics. They are West Land Polytechnic Ilobu, Osun State, Ultra Excellence College of Tech Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, The Polytechnic, Omuo-Ekiti, Ekiti State, Teedek Polytechnic, Ilogbo-Ekiti, Ekiti State, Brainfill Polytechnic, Ikot Ekpene, Akwa Ibom State.
Others are the Foundation Polytechnic, Ikot Idem, Ikot Ekpene Akwa Ibom State, Inspire Polytechnic Egbeda, the polytechnic Ojoku, Kwara State, Lagos Lagos State, New Land Polytechnic, Idofian, Kwara State, and Southern Atlantic Polytechnic, Uyo – Akwa Ibom State.
Supporting Nigerian students affected by the Russian/Ukraine war
Shortly after the Federal Government evacuated thousands of Nigerians affected by the Russian-Ukraine war, the government promised students affected by the war to indicate their interest in completing their education in Nigeria by registering on a portal it provided to enable it to place them in available universities.
1.5 million girls enrolled, after the completion of UNICEF, others project
The country’s partnership with the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) of the United Kingdom (UK) resulted in the enrolment of 1.5 million girls in schools in the North in ten years.
The intervention began in 2012 and ended this year. It gulped $109 million.
States that benefitted from the initiative are Katsina, Kano, Niger, Sokoto, Zamfara and Bauchi.
Despite the intervention, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) said there were 20 million out-of-school children in the nation.
JAMB admission into higher institutions
On July 22, the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) adopted 140 as the minimum cut-off mark for 2022 admissions into universities.
At the 2022 Policy Meeting on Admissions chaired by the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, in Abuja, JAMB Registrar Ishaq Oloyede, a professor, said the minimum cut-off mark for universities was 140 while Polytechnics and colleges of education would use 100 as their minimum.
Results of the 2022 JAMB examinations showed that only 378,639 of the 1,761,338 candidates who sat for the examinations scored 200 or above.
Some FG’s decisions on education
Some of the decisions taken by the government on education in the outgoing year include the removal of sex education from the curriculum, the use of teaching in local languages at basic schools, and sustaining the school feeding programme.
The government also registered two unions, the Nigerian Association of Medical and Dental Academics (NAMDA) as a trade union and the Nigerian University Academics (CONUA).
Meanwhile, the president is yet to sign the Students Loan Bill passed by the National Assembly in November.
When signed into law, the Act will create the Nigerian Education Bank, which will have the power to award student loans.
President failed to fulfil the promise of revving the sector’s budget in 2022, but he has done so in the 2023 appropriation
In July 2021, President Buhari promised at the Global Education Summit in London to beat the global benchmark of 20 per cent and raise his government’s budget for education to 50 per cent in 2022 and 2023 and 100 per cent by 2025.
“We commit to progressively increase our annual domestic education expenditure by 50 per cent over the next two years and up to 100 per cent by 2025 beyond the 20 per cent global benchmark,” he had said.
The 2022 budget for education was the lowest since the president assumed office in 2015.
The budget shows that the government would spend more of the education budget on salaries and office running, much more than it spends on infrastructure.
Of the proposed budget of N16.39 trillion, the sector got N705.27 billion. The recurrent budget, comprising funds for salaries, training of employees and running of offices, was N593,47 billion and funds for infrastructural development in the sector, known as the capital budget, took N111. 80 billion.
The percentage allocation for the sector is 4.3 per cent of the national budget.
Past education budgets approved by the president
In 2021, the percentage allocation to the sector was 5.68 of the national budget.
The approved national budget for the year was N13.58 trillion. The government devoted N771.46 billion to education.
Recurrent and capital votes for the year were N615.28 billion and N156.17 billion, respectively.
The government had an Appropriation Act of N10.81 trillion in 2020, from which it allocated N607.66 billion to education.
Recurrent spending in that year was N532.49 billion, while the capital fund was N75.17 billion.
Therefore, the total percentage of the education budget against the national budget for the year was 5.62 per cent.
Education got 7.12 per cent of the 2019 budget, as the government earmarked N634.55 billion of its N8.91 trillion to the sector.
Recurrent expenditure for the year gulped N575.86 billion, while capital spending got N58.68 billion.
In 2018, the percentage funding for the sector against the national budget was higher, put at 7.14 per cent.
The total national budget for that year was N9.12 trillion, and allocation for the sector was N651.22 billion.
Recurrent expenditure gulped N548.31 billion of the fund, while spending on capital projects took N102.90 billion.
The sector received its highest proportion of the national budget in 2016 at 7.92 per cent. The federal budget for the year was N6.06 trillion. Education got N480.27 billion that year. The government allocated N444.84 billion and N35.43 billion for recurrent and capital expenditures, respectively.
However, there was a sharp drop in the budget for education in 2017. Of the total national budget of N7.44 trillion, the government approved N455.40 billion for the sector.
Recurrent and capital expenditures for the year were N398.68 and N56.72 billion, respectively.
2023 budget for education
The total allocation for the sector in the 2023 Appropriation Act is N923 billion (N923,787,614,465). Personnel cost will gulp N662 billion (N662,732,758,942), overhead takes N38 billion (N38,842,766,015), and N222 billion (N222,212,089,508) goes for capital projects.