Despite the promise made by President Muhammadu Buhari at an international forum that the allocation to the education sector in the federal budget would be increased by at least 50 per cent in the next few years and by about 100 per cent by 2025, the allocation to the sector in the 2022 Budget estimates still fell short of expectations as N1.29 trillion or 7.9 % was allocated to the sector out of the N16.39 trillion estimates.
The Minister of Finance , Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, who on Friday gave the breakdown of the budget in Abuja, said the money included N108.1 billion for the Universal Basic Education, N1.2 tillion for the rehabilitation of classrooms/hostels, N392 million as takeoff grants for six federal science and technical colleges; N4.5 billion as scholarship allowances; and N2 billion as payment to 5,000 Federal Teachers Scheme Allowance.
This year, N742.5 bn or 5.6% was allocated to education out of a budget of N13.6 trn.
Recall that President Buhari recently attended a global education summit in London where world leaders made commitment to increasing budgetary allocations to education in their countries.
At the summit, President Buhari pledged to increase the budget for the education sector in Nigeria by as much as 50 per cent over the next two years.
The Nigerian leader stated: “We commit to progressively increase our annual domestic education expenditure by 50 per cent over the next two years and up to 100% by 2025 beyond the 26 per cent global benchmark.”
The Global Education summit, co-hosted by British prime minister, Mr Boris Johnson and President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya, successfully generated about four billion dollars out of the targeted five billion dollars for the transformation of the education sector in low income countries, including Nigeria.
Commenting on the issue in a chat on Sunday, the National President of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke, said it would be part of the issues to discuss with the government team during the week when the union leadership meets with them.
“Hopeful, we will meet with the government team later this week and it will be part of our discussion.
Our struggles for the improvement of the education sector has always included better funding of the sector. Without adequate funding of the sector much may not be achieved.
“Our plea is that Nigerians should not leave the struggle for a better funding of the education sector for ASUU alone.
“It is something that concerns all of us and we must see that the needful is done,” he said.
However, a source said the FG could not meet the expected increase in allocation to the sector for next year because the budget estimates had already been prepared before the meeting in London.
In another development, it was gathered that the meeting that ASUU would have held with the government team last week did not hold because government had too many labour issues to thrash out during the week.
The strike by the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD), threats of strike by medical workers among others took the attention of the government.
It is hoped that the meeting between ASUU and the government would help starve off another round of strike by the university lecturers after a nine-month-strike last year.