Failure Of Nigerian Government To Provide Free And Functional Universal Basic Education: Private Educational Institutions Bridging The Gap
Being a Speech delivered by Olajide Olanipekun Esq., during the 24th End of the Year and Prize Giving Day of Best Legacy International Nursery and Primary School, Awe, Oyo State, Nigeria held on the 25th July, 2019 in the School Premises
Free, Compulsory and Universal basic Education in Nigeria.
The Universal basic Education Act of 2004 provides for compulsory, free Universal basic education for all children of Primary and junior Secondary school age in the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The Act derives its power from section 18 (3) (a) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which provides thus:
18 (3) Government shall strive to eradicate illiteracy; and to this end Government shall as when practicable provide (italics mine)
Free, compulsory and Universal Primary Education.
The universal basic Education (UBE) was introduced by the Federal Government in 1999 with the main aim of providing free, universal and basic education for every Nigerian Child between ages of 6 and 15. The scheme earmarked children between age 3-5 for the early children care and development Education.
Children between the ages of 6 and 11 were to undergo the primary school education while those between the ages of 12 and 14+ were to undertake the Junior Secondary School education.
The aspect of UBE connotes the very foundation of Education, which all other level of Education are built upon.
The free aspect of the scheme refers to the need of every child to have access to education, regardless of the financial status of the parents or guidance.
Section 15 of the Childs Right Act 2003 also provides for Free, compulsory and universal Primary Education. Section 15 (6) of the Act criminalized failure of Parents and Guidance to give a child or ward under their free compulsory Basic education and terms of imprisonment or/and fine are provided for therein.
Also, section 17 of the Child Rights Law 2006 also provides for free, compulsory and Universal basic education of a child while sub section 6 of the Law criminalized refusal to give a child free and compulsory basic Education. Section 17 (1) of this Law makes it the duty of the Oyo state Government to provide such Education.
All the above show the intention of the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria through Legal framework to provide Universal Basic Education for our Children but the snag in the law is the part I italized above as when practicable and the decision of the Supreme Court, the apex Court of Nigeria concerning Free Education for the citizens is that government can not be compelled to ensure that but has duty to provide when is practicable!
The stark reality in the Country today is that there is no Free, compulsory Universal basic education in Nigeria. The education being provided by the Government could be tagged Free and non functional basic education! And the reality is pathetic and sad. or how could one describe lack of both physical infrastructure and instructional materials in our public secondary schools when the government is claiming there are free Education?
Free education goes beyond non payment of school fees. There should be adequate provisions of physical infrastructures and instructional materials for the scholls to be functional as it was done during the then Western Region Free Education Under Chief Obafemi Awolowo and Chief Ladoke Akintola the they were Premier of Western Region between 1954 and 1965; and briefly during the Second Republic in Oyo State Under Chief James Ajibola Ige, the then Governor of the Old Oyo State between 1979 and 1983.
The long incursion of the Military into the Politics of Nigeria between 1983 and 1999 put paid to and semblance of free education.
2.0 Private Educational Institutions to the Rescue
During the interregnum of the military in the 1980s and 1990s, Nigeria witness massive establishment of privately owned educational institution.
Today, Nigeria can only boast of functional Education be it Primary of secondary school only through Private Schools who are churning out, year in, year out sets of well tutored children to give hope of better future for the country.
I am not saying pupils that attend government owned Private education facilities are not brilliant or have glorious future, there are some good public primary and secondary schools in the country with few outstanding products, but the are exception to the rule. I am very sure none of our political leaders and even parents herein gathered today will send their Children to the same Primary School they attended in Nigeria. Thats the sad reality.
The inability and Failure of Nigerian Government to provide Functional, Free and compulsory universal Basic Education led to the privately owned educational institution to come to the rescue to bridge the gap. I sincerely believe the intervention of the privately owned institution is welcome and a blessing to the Country.
However, what should be learnt from the successes of the privately owned education institution is the outstanding management acumen of the owners which made them cynosure of all eyes because they do not have the kind of money our government is spending on the non functional education facilities of the nation.
The results is better imagined if privately owned education institutions have access to adequate funding.
I wish to congratulate the Founder and the Management of Best Legacy International Nursery & Primary School, Awe for a good job they are carrying out in the school. Managing a school successfully close to three decades is not by any standard a feat that could be achieved in a jiffy without utmost dedication, perseverance and discipline.
While urging the school to keep up the good work of creating best legacy for the generation yet unborn, I wish to say that the sky is just the starting point as the Best Legacy group of school will soon become the toast of the international community as the school has already carve a niche for it self in Nigeria.
I appreciate the school management for inviting me to share my thoughts with you today. I also thanked the parents/guidance and the audience for your rapt attention.