COMPULSORY BASIC EDUCATION – FEASIBLE?

Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.
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Someone says,

10.5m children out of school.

Time To Wield The Big Stick Of Making Basic Education From Age 5-18 Compulsory Nationwide.

Actually the current correct figure of out of school children is said to revolve around 13.2 million now. Apparently, the problems in our educational sector is worsening, without even mentioning the interminable and perennial ASUU strikes!

While the above suggestion sounds great,it misses the big picture.

Why are more children out of school) WHY? Is it because more parents think education is unimportant, or because times are hard and more parents cannot afford to send their children to school?

I responded thus,

How can basic education be made COMPULSORY unless it is also made FREE?

What of parents that can’t afford to send the kid to school?

And a short conversation ensued from this, focusing generally on how to lift the level of our education from its doldrums to something comparable to what we have in developed countries.

Aramanda Okunrin:

I am not aware that our public schools are that expensive.

A more useful discussion would probably be how to maintain quality while expanding access and pushing for compulsory basic education.

Compulsory basic education for all children aged between 5-18years in Nigeria is doable and it’s high time we institutionalize it as a national objective.

[I had ‘free’ basic education at ordinary school level. My parents did not have to buy books in those days Not sure my dad paid school fees.. ].

Me:

You did not quite address my questions.

There are folks that can barely feed, not to talk of afford basic education for their childen!.

Reality.

This would be another ‘paper law’ unless it is made free in some jurisdictions.

You may also want to know that some would rather use the time spent schooling to generate income for the family. You must he alive, FIRST, to have education, compulsory or not

Aramanda Okunrin:

It is because of such thinking as “some would rather use time spent in schooling to generate income” that basic education MUST be compulsory FIRST.

At that age, it is the parents and society exploiting them if they have to fend for themselves instead of being given the skills that will make them useful adults.

Whatever needs to be done to realize the objective – build more schools, massively recruit teachers, create transport access to schools, make it affordable or free, allocate higher budget, etc – should be done.

[This guy is going round in circles! How do you educate a hungry child? You have to feed the body before feeding the mind!]

I responded,

We already know all these things, bro!

Again, you are going around this issue. Dead boys and girls do NOT, can NOT go to school.

How EXACTLY do you compel a man in far away Zungeru with twenty children and three wives to send his children to school? What if he simply doesn’t have the wherewithal?

Where is the source of funds, if government decides to subsidize education in some areas?. With oil revenue (remember minimum wage is now Naira 30K)!? Coupled with the debt dead weight hanging over our heads like the Sword of Damocles?

Aramanda Okunrin:

We currently subsidize consumption in several areas that are not core to national development. We can remove those and free money to use in education, security and health care.

Petroleum subsidy/under-recovery and the equalization fund subsidies would free about N500-800billion a year for instance.

In addition, we can innovate around tax collection such as have service specific VAT rate for widely used services through which collection can be easily done e.g. a 10% VAT on telecoms services will generate above N320billion annually.

We are already talking N1 trillion for three strategic sectors: education, security and health care apart from reducing waste and allocating more from current resources to fund these sectors.

Needless to say, properly taxing the untaxed/undertaxed informal sector that make up 70% of the economy (Agriculture: 29%; Services: 48%) would also give more funding that can be applied to fund these and other government priorities.

[Looks like the guy finally realized you cannot quite make something that needs resources compulsory unless you also provide the resources .

And I told him so…]

You finally came around to my original point. Finally.

You can not make basic education compulsory all over Nigeria unless, and until it is also FREE.

Simple!

Meanwhile, we all know what happens in Nigeria whenever something is subsidized. Some people would simply start feeding fat on it, and the actual people who should benefit would not.

It is in our character.

Salient examples are the religious pilgrimage racket, the fuel import cartels, the fertilizer subaidy scams, etc.. .

Why would education subsidization be any different, given that the same Nigerians would handle these things??

Instead, focus more on improving the general welfare of people. More WILLING parents would then be able to send their children to school. It is not by force to be book_literate, and shouldn’t be made mandatory. But when more parents are able, more would comply. Not hy forcing them.

There are more important things to focus on… like mindset, which book literacy has little bearing on.
Those that are unwilling can be left to their devices. No compunction.

Whether things like free / compulsory national basic education would ever happen in Nigeria is up in the air.

Free basic education all over the country could happen incrementally. After all, that is the situation in Canada, and some other countries.

It would be a utopian situation for this to happen. But does utopia exist, here?

We also tend to make the mistake of thinking throwing money at something necessarily solves the problem. The problem of bastardization of our education is deeper than that.

….Who would teach the teachers?….

How do you correct age-long mindset of a section of the country that doesn’t believe in education, generally?

Make the pedagogical infrastructure available, make tuition (almost) fee, and the mindset still remains unaddressed.. That can only be changed with continuing sensitization.

The paucity of teachers may be the greatest problem to tackle. Money can solve the infrastructure decay almost overnight. But money cannot address mindset or lack of qualitative teachers with military alacrity!
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Some links to have a look at in contemplating our education sectorial decay…
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Study The Teachers; Teach Them To Study.
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Don’t Train The Brain, Train The Heart FIRST
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50% Of Teachers In A’Ibom Fail Written, Oral English Tests

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