AUGUST REVIEW: THE NIGERIAN CHILD AND THE FIGHT AGAINST POVERTY

In 2018, Nigeria… a supposedly giant of Africa and the most populous black nation in the world became the country with the highest number of poverty stricken individuals in the world. A significant achievement by the ever corrupt and inept government led by a hoard of ever defecting politicians who has grappled and jostled for power of the country for close to half of a century.

According to the Mirriam Webster dictionary, poverty can be defined “the state of one who lacks a usual or socially acceptable amount of money or material possessions”. A responsible state is one who ensures all its citizens have access to social acceptable welfare benefits such as shelter, education, food and health insurance. People all over the world, have their personal perspective of what poverty really is, which implies that poverty is very ambiguous to a lot of people. Our definition of poverty thus becomes shaped by our current reality and we might struggle to fathom another person’s idea of poverty.

With the median of the Nigerian population falling in active fertile ages, the country’s estimated birth rate is at forty babies per every one thousand births (www.indexmundi.com). This infers that a higher percentage of these children are born into a seemingly hopeless abyss of poverty which threatens their survival more than any disease or affliction. The infant mortality rate stands at seventy death per one thousand live births with the primary cause of these death sub-par facilities and care for these babies. The stats above shows how the Nigerian government has continually failed the innocent infant even before the open their eyes or let out their first cry in this harsh world.

When the conditions and necessary facilities required for the proper development of these children are thus missing from their infrastructure, with a steady decline yearly, we can also expect the rate of development of each child to regress yearly till eventually we hit rock bottom and have nothing but a pool of cave children around us struggling for their daily survival.

I personally believe the government and the country needs to step up. As individuals, we need to take control and realize we the masses are more powerful than the government and can effectively shape the future of the Nigerian child so he can effectively take his place in the society without shame or fear from his peers across the world. We must effectively contribute to the development of these children by placing their interests first and not just seeking for enlightening medium of developing them, but constantly effecting this medium.

Our society must therefore declare poverty as public enemy number one and see welfare and charity not as privilege but as a responsibility to fellow citizens. The country and its populace must understand this important principle to battle this menace and survive the odds against its fiery claws. The functional development of a child at home, at school, at social gatherings and even in the society, depends solely on the eradication of poverty in the country. With the prevalent scourge of poverty in the country, a child cannot be properly developed to be the best he can be, the future leader of his country.

When you care for a child, you care for a nation…

 

JULY: RE-EVALUATING YOUR YEAR

EDUCATION IN NIGERIA;

THE CONTINUOUS DECADENCE OF THE NIGERIAN EDUCATIONAL SECTOR

DEFINITION OF EDUCATION

Education according to the Oxford dictionary can simply be defined as the system of training and instruction designed to give knowledge and develop skills. It is a major tool for national socio-economic development and for individuals’ socio-economic empowerment and poverty reduction (Omonkalo, 2014). It is the acquisition of not only knowledge but societal rules and regulations (Adeyemo, 2009). It is a key development index and plays complementary role for overall individual, social and national development (Clignet and Foster, 1964). From whichever point of view the topic of education is viewed, it can be seen that it provides for an individual to develop and gain special skills while contributing the growth of the society.

 

Over the years, the meaning of education has been lost in the sands of time. Early in the American history, when slavery was still very much in circulation, it was a law that no slave should know how to read and write. A slave who knew had to read or write or could do both had to fear for his very life. Education then meant liberation; liberation from ignorance, liberation from inferiority complex, and liberation from slavery. The form of education given then was of great value that just finishing from the primary school alone was worth getting a good job and a good pay, not because there were few educated people but because the level of education given then was eloquent.

They didn’t just teach the students to get out of school and find a good stable job. Earn big money, sit down and enjoy life. No; they imparted upon them the tools of liberation, wisdom to grow from their lowly state and the knowledge of the things around them. They taught them how to live in life and how to learn more from life. They taught them how to pass their findings and their acquired knowledge to the ones coming after them so they have a legacy. The quality of education then, taught the students about their origins and the values of the society and the worth of their assessments was standard. By standard I mean, world class standard because, a child who passed averagely then is sure to be a genius in our age today.

Dr. Benjamin Carson illustrated this when he had a breakfast talk in 2016 with the then President of the United States of America, Barrack Obama. He spoke on the alarming drop and still dropping rate and quality of education in the States and how the standards of examination to test the students have dropped drastically. Looking back at the last century and the one before; in the 1900’s and 1800’s, he was able to get a sample of the questions used them to test an high school student before promotion to college and he compared it with the questions asked now. The comparison was nothing to write home about. He stated that even if some of the questions asked in the former years to graduate to college were asked some university students in this century, they might fail the question.

 

This should point out that indeed the level of education has deteriorated since the last centuries, and it still is. But what can we say; if the United States educational system has gone down this low, how much more the educational standard of the African race. First and foremost, we never really had access to a good education and the one which we do get, we are fortunate to have. And now that the education system has dropped, one can’t help but wonder what the future holds for the younger generation.

 

Education plays an important role in any individual’s development and the national development as a whole. Education however needs financing to be able to bring about the required developments. In spite of the importance of education in national development, education has not been enjoying commensurate financing in Nigeria. Over the years, trends show how the budgetary provision (the only source of funding to education within the country) has been fluctuating and presently decreasing drastically. This trend even falls short of the recommendation of the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) that every developing nation should allocate at least 26% of her GDP to the education sector. Presently, Nigeria has a budget of 7% of her GDP allocated for education.

When we compare the responsibility of the government towards the educational sector before independence and after independence, we see that there isn’t much difference in what the colonial masters did and what the past and present administrations are doing. The Pre-Independence educational era was the period before Nigeria’s independence starting from when the Westerners first introduced education to Nigeria (1842) to just before Nigeria gained independence (1959). The Post-Independence Educational era was the period after the independence of Nigeria from her colonial masters (1960 – present).

Grants to Primary Education in Western Region of Nigeria (1955 – 1960)

Year Total Expenditure

($)

Expenditure on Education Expenditure on Education as % of Total Expenditure
1925 6,509,244 116,301 1.8
1929 6,045,621 263,457 4.3
1933 6,898,816 237,732 3.3
1936 6,585,458 231,983 3.5
1939 6,576,835 282,820 4.3
1951/52 49,131,000 8,325,000 16.9

(Source: Central Bank of Nigeria (2013), Statistical Bulletin & Information from www.nigeria.gov.com)

After independence, the position of the education sector in budgetary allocation and the budget allocated to it dropped gradually. By, the time the military took over, they dealt a great blow on various sectors including the education sector leading to frequent labour strikes.

Federal Government Budgetary Allocation to Education in Nigeria (1960 – 2015)

Year Allocation as % of Total Budget Year Allocation as % of Total Budget Year Allocation as % of Total Budget
1960 6.02 1979 3.70 1998 10.27
1961 6.15 1980 4.95 1999 11.12
1962 5.19 1981 6.45 2000 8.36
1963 3.45 1982 8.09 2001 7.00
1964 3.65 1983 4.04 2002 5.90
1965 3.57 1984 4.49 2003 1.83
1966 4.23 1985 3.79 2004 10.50
1967 4.88 1986 2.69 2005 9.30
1968 2.84 1987 1.93 2006 11.00
1969 2.20 1988 2.40 2007 8.09
1970 0.69 1989 3.55 2008 13.00
1971 0.53 1990 2.83 2009 6.45
1972 0.62 1991 1.09 2010 6.40
1973 0.88 1992 3.86 2011 1.69
1974 2.96 1993 5.62 2012 10.00
1975 4.57 1994 7.13 2013 8.70
1976 8.71 1995 7.20 2014 10.60
1977 3.12 1996 12.33 2015 9.5
1978 11.44 1997 17.59

(Source: Central Bank of Nigeria (2013), Statistical Bulletin & Information from www.nigeria.gov.com)

 

FACTS; NIGERIAN EDUCATION

Pre-Independence (1842 – 1959)

1842 – 1871: Education was introduced to Nigeria in 1842 by the Christian missionaries as a means of converting the natives. The Mission solely funded the education it provided for the natives without any help from the colonial government. Up until 1952, the Mission and voluntary agencies funded the education mostly.

1872: The British government took interest in the education provided to the natives and funded the Mission with $1000 later reduced to $330 and further to $30. The money was shared equally among all the Mission schools that operated in Lagos then (Wesleyan Mission, Roman Catholic Mission, Church Mission).

1873: $300 was allocated for the funding of education to be shared among the Mission schools. The money was never paid.

1874 – 1876: $300 was released to the Mission schools yearly.

1882: The British government took more interest in the education sector and focused a lot more on its funding.

1887: The government increased the yearly fund from $300 to $600.

1926: The emergence of the Education Ordinance laid the foundation for Nigeria’s Education System

Post-Independence

1962 – 1966: The First National Development Plan; Education accounted for 10% of the total public sector investment and ranked fifth in the sectorial allocation.

1970 – 1974: The Second National Development Plan; Education accounted for 13.5% of the total planned public sector investment. Because much attention was on reconciliation, reconstruction, and rehabilitation after the Civil war, the financial allocation to education had little impact as enrolment at education level had doubled.

1975 – 1980: The Third National Development Plan; Education accounted for 7.5% of the National Capital Expenditure. The position of education sector allocation dropped to fifty.

1981 – 1985: The Fourth National Development Plan; Education had an increased in allocated funds which rose to 17.3% of the National Capital Expenditure.

 

 

7% of the national GDP was allocated to education in 2018. When compared with other African states, the percentage is one of the lowest coming from a nation described as the Giant of Africa.

45% of Nigerians population is of the age 15 years and below. 40% of the total population is between the ages 6 – 11years and do not attend any school. Girls from the Northern region comprising of the larger part of the 40%. The estimation amounts to about 4.7 million children eligible for primary education but are not enrolled in any.

Because of the large number of students against the thin budget allocated to education, the quality of education is dropping exponentially.

 

Reference: Matthew I.A. (2016). “Financial Allocation to Education: Trends, Issues, and Ways Forward in Nigeria”. Journal Plus Education, ISSN: 1842-077X, E-ISSN (online) 2068-1151, Vol. XIV, No. 1, pp.227-245.

Central Bank of Nigeria (2015). “Statistical Bulletin and Information”. Abuja Nigeria: Central Bank of Nigeria.

World Bank (2012). “World Bank selected 20 countries annual budgetary allocation to education.” Washington DC: The World Bank.

WELCOME TO JUNE SHOWERS

THE GRADUAL DEMISE OF EDUCATION IN NIGERIA.


To paraphrase Hannah Arendt, education is an indispensable means by which children are properly introduced to a complex, multifarious world, the teaching profession is the formalized vehicle by which this introduction is done in a standardized, measurable fashion. Within the context of a civil, organized society, therefore, teachers represent the hope for the continuity of a nation, tasked with making sure that the younger generation is able to cope with the world it will inherit.

Where teachers are not taken care of and properly trained, then, the direct implication is that the very continuity of that social space is threatened. In Nigeria, disdain for the teaching profession has almost become a norm. Teaching is now what people do in order to not just sit at home.

Teachers have to make do with poor remuneration, poor welfare, and poor self-esteem, so much so that even in popular songs, the fate of the teacher is revealed as being an ineligible bachelor, not deserving to marry from the best of families. Worse of all, teachers themselves seem to have accepted, indeed embraced, this scornful treatment. “I am a teacher” has become a most potent incantation for the shirking of (financial) responsibilities.

This situation calls for urgent action, because the threat of discontinuation is even more terrifying for Nigeria. The misplacement of priorities, the veneration of mediocrity, has pushed the country to the edge of a precipice. Something must now be done or, in the future, pundits will be trying to understand how Nigeria became, to use the words of Wole Soyinka, “at best, yet another failed state, (and) at worst, an overcrowded necropolis where the hope of the future lies interred in unmarked graves.” (Opinion, From: The Guardian, May 31, 2018).

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