“Powerful people will not educate powerless people, because that will mean taking away power from them. The aim of powerful people is to remain powerful by any means necessary” – John Henrik Clark.
There is two clear senarios to situate this great revelation by John Henry Clark in relation to the much touted vision 2020.
First, from history and given the role the powerful countries have played in underdeveloping us, it is clear that it is not feasible for a powerful nation to develop the human capital of a competing nation to overtake them. So that vision can be best described as a halucination.
Second, it has been proven that our country has been ruled since independence by the powerful men from the ruling class, it is practically impossible for them to educate women and thereby take away power from them.
This is the major reason why our education system has been designed in such a way that the powerless, particularly women, remain continoiusly underdeveloped in order for the powerful to main the status quo. The powerful know clearly what change a transformed education system can bring particularly on thier hold to power.
Today, statistics have that since the birth of Nigeria there is no state in the country where education enrollment and learning achievement of women has been more than that of women. Why has that been so? Untill recently that it was observed that enrolment of women is more than men? That is only on enrolment as the women still face other obstacles mounted against them by the society led by government.
The Statistics that face us
- Over one billion people, majority of them women, lack basic education and links between illiteracy and poverty are proven and strong.
- Globally, about 90 million school age children are out of school, nearly 60% of them girls.
- Of the children who enroll in primary school, over 150 million drop out, globally.
- User fees are still charged for access to education in 92 countries and this has impact on excluding girls.
- If all children were in school the Global Campaign for Education estimates that 700,000 lives a year would be saved
- Over 90 countries failed to reach even the minimum goal of gender parity in primary and secondary education by end of 2005, including Nigeria.
- Over 12M children still missing basic Education in Nigeria
- Illiteracy rate as high as 75% in some states
- Dilapidated school structures and children learning under trees in some communities
- Falling standard of Education
- Disparity in the enrolment ratio – as high as 1:3 in some states against girls. This is evident in gender gap of over 27% against the girls in the North West Zone.
- Some states still have up to 70% unqualified teachers in our public primary schools.
- Of those who enroll in JSS, some states have attendance rate as low as 31%.
- Some states in Northern Nigeria have male to female teacher ratio of 6:1 and inadequate female teachers have kept millions of girls out of school.
Federal government in the past 12 years has its education budget between 8 and 13% of the total federal budget, while some states went as low as 3%. This is totally against the UNESCO recommendation of 26% for developing countries like Nigeria.
What is the origin of this disequllibrum? The obstacles were mounted first by the colonial ruler who from history never sent women equal in number or more than men to study in England, America or any other developed country. So the men were handed power after independence. From the statistics available, this status quo has been maintained by past and present Nigeria government. While the colonial masters in thier country have adjusted to the realities and significance of giving men and women equal education opportunity, our brothers in government have held strongly to the policy of providing minimal or no education for women. In most times they use culture as a sheild for this atrocity.
How has this ugly situation survived? First, government has constantly underfunded education to the extent that the few availabe space has been taken by men. Second, the poor resource allocated to education sector has been applied in the presence of monumentral fraud, waste and abuse. aThis has been possible with the high degree of lying, cheating and stealing by those who run government and the education sector. Vision 2020 is not a different ball game.
To testify to this is the clear lack of political will, poor and laughable budget allocation and the government policies and even commercialize education which every developed nation provides almost free to thier citizens. The attempt by Oby Ezekwesili under the Obasanjo regime to privatize unity school as well as jerking up of school fees out of the reach of average Nigerian.
We are all aware that thier decision to privatize education, which is a social service, was a response to the worldbank recommendation. If that has succeeded, in the present global financial meltdown, the future of our children, particularly women would have been completely dashed. It was said that the privatization was part of the deal to forgive Nigeria of thier debt after collecting a solid $18m that no country in history has paid at once.
We all know who is reaping the benefit. It is certianly not Nigeria and Nigerians. Everybody know that government has found it difficult to effectively implement Universal free Basic Education that would have provided the much needed leverage for more women to access education no matter the quality. Does this show that government is capable of visioning for the people? The failure of government at all levels to implement UBE testifies to the fact that vision 2020 is a mere halucination which will be another national project for the boys. We must purge them of this halucination before it becomes additional obstacle to inclusive education. It has been proven that capitalism cannot provide the required education that can lift any under developed country like Nigeria.
What transformation do we need? For government:
- Structural change
- Classification of education up to senior secondary level as a social good
- Full implementation of free and inclusive basic education particularly for women and phisically challenged
- Construction and reconstruction of schools to be gender sensitive in all ramifications and create a more learning environment
- Allocation of more gender sensitive budget to education than any other sector and ensuring that education budget should be school based.
- Development of home grown education vision and strategies not allowing our education vision to be worldbank driven
- Attraction of qualified teachers, aggressive retraining and improvement of thier conditions of service to be equal or more than the best paid sector
- Reorganise school record keeping to ensure accurate record keeping particularly on enrolment, transition, learning achievement and drop out among others.
- Open and transparent management of education resource application to eliminate fraud, waste and abuse
- Full implimentation of Child rights Act side by side with UBE Act.
They should takeover the owenership of schools and facilitate education vision and oversee its implementation
Aggresive mobilization of communities to embrace education and participation in the running and management of school resources . This a wake up call for CSACEFA and other CSOs.
Hold government more accountable in the running of education
Currently education at all levels is not inclusive. Untill the people are placed on the drivers seat and education made more accessible and free, vision 2020 will remain the national halucination that it is.
A Presentation at Nigeria Social Forum – Enugu