The role of the National Assembly (federal legislature) in advancing education in Nigeria

Published Mar 30, 2018

Amongst the roles played by the national assembly (federal legislature) in advancing education in Nigeria are: Making laws establishing 40 federal universities, 21 federal polytechnics and 22 federal colleges of education. Apart from the federal tertiary institutions, there are 44 state universities and 68 private universities. These efforts are being made to meet the high rate of admission demand arising from the steady increase in the Nigerian population.

The ultimate goal of every country is to ensure that its citizens are well educated. In line with this aspiration, Nigeria launched the Universal Basic Education (UBE) programme in 1999, with the goal of providing “free, universal and compulsory basic education for every Nigerian child aged 6-15 years. The programme couldn’t have legal backing to operate not until 2004 when the UBE Act was signed into law.

Significantly, the national assembly had on several occasions, in the past intervened on labour disputes between the Executive Arm and labour unions of various strata of the educational institutions in Nigeria. Their interventions had severally caused the labour unions to call off their strikes.

In 2016, the national assembly forced Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) to review its registration fees downward from N5650 to N2500. This action created opportunities for the children of the poor to seek admission into various tertiary institutions across the country.


Challenges

In spite of the legislation that has rapidly increased the number of public schools in recent years; rapid population growth has overwhelmed them. According to the UN, 8.73 million elementary school-aged children did not participate in education at all in 2015. Nigeria became the country with the highest number of out-of-school children in the world in 2015.

In 2015, exactly 1,428,327 sat for the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examinations (UTME) but only 415,500 applicants were admitted by all the universities. The inability of the education system to meet the rising demand for university education coupled with its poor quality are the reasons for thousands of students seeking university education outside of Nigeria. According to UESCO Institute of Statistics (UIS), 17,973 Nigerians studied in the UK, 13,919 in Ghana and 10,674 in the US in 2015.

The NA has failed to exercise the powers conferred on it by the constitution to appropriate funds to the education sector to meet the 26% of the yearly budget as recommended by UNESCO. Daily Trust reported that: between 2016 and 2018 federal government and States voted N3.34tr (7.5%) of N43.5tr budgets on education.

Also, the National Assembly was alleged to have collected N55 million from the then, Minister of Education, Prof. Fabian Osuji as a bribe to facilitate the passage of the budget for education. Similarly, Federal Ministry of Education was mentioned as one of the ministries involved in the 2016 budget padding saga. The padded budget did not show the inflated figures at a glance for every ministry. But put together, the inflated figure amounted to N481billion out of N6.08trillion of the 2016 Budget.

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Monday Yakubu

Journalist, Editor, PR Expert, UN Volunteer.

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