FREE EDUCATION IN NIGERIA: AN APPRAISAL OF ITS ADVANTAGES AND IMPLEMENTATION CHALLENGES

ABSTRACT

The Universal Basic Education (UBE) is an ambitious educational programme, which was initiated and launched by the government and the people of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to eradicate illiteracy, ignorance, and poverty as well as stimulate and accelerate national development, political consciousness, and national integration. Education has been a tool for development in all nations of the world including Nigeria. Therefore, the Nigerian government under the leadership of President Olusegun Obasanjo decided to introduce the Universal Basic Education (UBE) programme to correct the existing distortions in the Basic Education sub-sector of the educational system.

 

The level of illiteracy is increasing among the populations that are supposed to be the target of UBE. The rate of school dropout is increasing daily. The level of skills acquisition does not seem to be materializing for graduates of UBE. In view of the objectives of the Universal Basic Education programme, these essential limitations to education are needed to be looked into by Universal Basic Education. Why then do they still exist in Nigeria, especially in this contemporary world of globalization? Therefore, this study was designed to find out these problems, and why are not being tackled especially before it gets out of hand in Nigeria.

 

CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION 1.1

Background to the Study Education as they say the best legacy one can get. It has been simply described as a dynamic agent of social change that brings about the rapid development of a nation (Obasanjo, 1999). Thus the need for a free educational system to ensure the acquisition of appropriate levels of literacy, numeracy, manipulation, communication, and life skills solid foundation for lifelong learning (Tijani, 2004). The Universal Basic Education (UBE) is an ambitious educational programme, which was initiated and launched by the government and the people of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to eradicate illiteracy, ignorance, and poverty as well as stimulate and accelerate national development, political consciousness, and national integration. President Olusegun Obasanjo flagged off the Universal Basic Education (UBE) programme on the 29th of September 1999 in the historic city of Sokoto in Sokoto state.

 

Universal Basic Education is a programme initiated by the Federal government to rectify the existing distortions in the Basic Education sub-sector of the educational system. The major goals of Universal Basic Education are to bring about positive changes by making the programme implementation responsive to the needs of the people and ensuring that the individuals and communities become actively involved in the provision of Basic Education just like the slogan “education for all is the responsibility of all”. Globally, Universal Basic Education is conceived to embrace formal Education up to the age of 15 years as well as adult and non-formal Education including Education of the marginalized groups within the society.

 

The organization of African Unity (OAU), now African Unity (AU) Decade of Education for Africa (1997 – 2006), required African nations to sum up access to quality basic education as a background for feasible economic development (Nigerian Federal Ministry of Education, 2000). The specific objectives of the Universal Basic Education Programme, as outlined in the implementation guidelines of the Federal Ministry of Education, (2000), are as follows: creating in the whole populace a solid consciousness and a solid promise to its vigorous advancement, the provision of free Universal Basic Education for each Nigerian child of school age, diminishing radically the rate of dropouts from the formal school system through improved significance, equality, and effectiveness, providing for the adapting needs of youthful people who for some explanation have needed to interfere with their learning through appropriate types of reciprocal ways to deal with the promotion and provision of basic education and guaranteeing the acquisition of the suitable levels of literacy, education and moral, good and community values required for establishing a strong foundation for lifelong learning.

 

A Universal Basic Education Commission was established by the Act of the National Assembly as a way of ensuring the proper implementation of the objectives of the Universal Basic Education Programme. It is the responsibility of this commission to coordinate the activities of the programme throughout its first nine years ‘gestation period’, from 2001 to 2009 and beyond (Nigerian Federal Ministry of Education, 2000). It is expected that the compulsory nature of the Universal Basic Education Programme will ensure that more girls are enrolled in primary and junior secondary schools being the stages that lay the foundation for the educational attainment of children.

 

The Universal Basic Education guidelines also aim to correct the gender disparity in education by ensuring that all children of school age including girls are to enroll in schools. The UBE programme is intended to be Universal, free and compulsory, thereby emphasizing that the parents have obligations to send their children to school. Furthermore, sanctions will be imposed on persons, societies, or institutions that prevent children, adolescents, and youth from benefiting from the programme (Nigerian Federal Ministry of Education, 2000). This harsh posture of the Federal Government in ensuring compliance with the Universal Basic Education Programme by all citizens is very laudable. It gives hope of bridging the wide gender disparity in the educational attainment of children in Nigeria in the near future. 1.2

 

Statement of the Problem Education has been a tool for development in all nations of the world including Nigeria. Therefore, the Nigerian government under the leadership of President Olusegun Obasanjo decided to introduce the Universal Basic Education (UBE) programme to correct the existing distortions in the Basic Education sub-sector of the educational system. The level of illiteracy is increasing among the populations that are supposed to be the target of UBE. The rate of school dropout is increasing daily. The level of skills acquisition does not seem to be materializing for graduates of UBE. In view of the objectives of the Universal Basic Education programme, these essential limitations to education are needed to be looked into by Universal Basic Education. Why then do they still exist in Nigeria, especially in this contemporary world of globalization? Therefore, this study was designed to find out these problems, and why are not being tackled especially before it gets out of hand in Nigeria.

1.3      Objectives of the Study

The main objective of this study is to appraise the advantages and implementation challenges of free education in Nigeria. The specific objectives include: i)               To understand the factors or constraints that have made the implementation of educational policies difficult ii)             To examine the strategies that can be adopted to ensure better policy implementation iii)           To establish the relationship between the pupil’s enrolment and the implementation of the programme iv)            To ascertain the relationship between the teachers and the UBE personnel and the implementation of the programme in Nigeria 1.4      Research Questions The following research questions were raised to guide the researcher into the investigation of the problems thus: i)               What are the factors or constraints have made the implementation of educational policies difficult? ii)             What strategies can be adopted to ensure better policy implementation? iii)           What is the relationship between the pupils’ enrolment and the implementation of the programme? iv)            What is the relationship between the teachers and the UBE personnel and the implementation of the programme in Nigeria? 1.5      Research Hypotheses The following research hypotheses were tested for this study: i)               There is a significant relationship between pupils’ enrolment and the implementation of the programme ii)             There is no significant relationship between the teachers and the UBE personnel and the implementation of the programme in Nigeria     1.6      Significance of the Study

 

The significance of the study lies in its concern for the advantages and implementation challenges of free education in Nigeria and suggests ways of tackling constraints to the implementation if any. It is hoped that, if constraints are identified and solutions proffer, a lot of progress and improvement will be made in the programme implementation in Nigeria. The study can also provide the universal Basic Education planners, Administrators, the government and Associations and Organizations interested in the Universal Basic Education with vital information on how best to implement the programme in Nigeria. 1.7      Scope of the Study             The study focused attention on the appraisal of the advantages and implementation challenges of free education in Nigeria by using Oyo state as a case study with a view to identifying constraints to the implementation of any and proffering solutions to make the programme better in terms of implementation in Oyo state. The study compared the responses of the Universal Basic Education personnel who are the planners and the teachers in the Universal Basic Schools who are the implementers of the outlined plans in ten (10) local government areas of Oyo state. 1.8      Definition of Terms Education: the system of formal teaching and learning as conducted through schools and other institutions. Levels of education in modern societies can go from preschools to colleges and universities Appraisal: A judge or opinion of something, especially one that assesses effectiveness or usefulness. The UBE: Universal Basic Education, is a basic education meant for learners over a nine-year formal education.

ABSTRACT

The Universal Basic Education (UBE) is an ambitious educational programme, which was initiated and launched by the government and the people of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to eradicate illiteracy, ignorance, and poverty as well as stimulate and accelerate national development, political consciousness, and national integration.

Education has been a tool for development in all nations of the world including Nigeria. Therefore, the Nigerian government under the leadership of President Olusegun Obasanjo decided to introduce the Universal Basic Education (UBE) programme to correct the existing distortions in the Basic Education sub-sector of the educational system. The level of illiteracy is increasing among the populations that are supposed to be the target of UBE. The rate of school dropout is increasing daily. The level of skills acquisition does not seem to be materializing for graduates of UBE. In view of the objectives of the Universal Basic Education programme, these essential limitations to education are needed to be looked into by Universal Basic Education. Why then do they still exist in Nigeria, especially in this contemporary world of globalization? Therefore, this study was designed to find out these problems, and why they are not being tackled especially before it gets out of hand in Nigeria.

 

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1      Background to the Study

Education as they say the best legacy one can get. It has been simply described as a dynamic agent of social change that brings about the rapid development of a nation (Obasanjo, 1999). Thus the need for a free educational system to ensure the acquisition of appropriate levels of literacy, numeracy, manipulation, communication, and life skills solid foundation for lifelong learning (Tijani, 2004). The Universal Basic Education (UBE) is an ambitious educational programme, which was initiated and launched by the government and the people of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to eradicate illiteracy, ignorance, and poverty as well as stimulate and accelerate national development, political consciousness, and national integration.

President Olusegun Obasanjo flagged off the Universal Basic Education (UBE) programme on the 29th of September 1999 in the historic city of Sokoto in Sokoto state. Universal Basic Education is a programme initiated by the Federal government to rectify the existing distortions in the Basic Education sub-sector of the educational system. The major goals of Universal Basic Education are to bring about positive changes by making the programme implementation responsive to the needs of the people and ensuring that the individuals and communities become actively involved in the provision of Basic Education just like the slogan “education for all is the responsibility of all”. Globally, Universal Basic Education is conceived to embrace formal Education up to the age of 15 years as well as adult and non-formal Education including Education of the marginalized groups within the society. The organization of African Unity (OAU), now African Unity (AU) Decade of Education for Africa (1997 – 2006), required African nations to sum up access to quality basic education as a background for feasible economic development (Nigerian Federal Ministry of Education, 2000).

The specific objectives of the Universal Basic Education Programme, as outlined in the implementation guidelines of the Federal Ministry of Education, (2000), are as follows: creating in the whole populace a solid consciousness and a solid promise to its vigorous advancement, the provision of free Universal Basic Education for each Nigerian child of school age, diminishing radically the rate of dropouts from the formal school system through improved significance, equality, and effectiveness, providing for the adapting needs of youthful people who for some explanation have needed to interfere with their learning through appropriate types of reciprocal ways to deal with the promotion and provision of basic education and guaranteeing the acquisition of the suitable levels of literacy, education and moral, good and community values required for establishing a strong foundation for lifelong learning.

A Universal Basic Education Commission was established by the Act of the National Assembly as a way of ensuring the proper implementation of the objectives of the Universal Basic Education Programme. It is the responsibility of this commission to coordinate the activities of the programme throughout its first nine years ‘gestation period’, from 2001 to 2009 and beyond (Nigerian Federal Ministry of Education, 2000). It is expected that the compulsory nature of the Universal Basic Education Programme will ensure that more girls are enrolled in primary and junior secondary schools being the stages that lay the foundation for the educational attainment of children. The Universal Basic Education guidelines also aim to correct the gender disparity in education by ensuring that all children of school age including girls are to enroll in schools. The UBE programme is intended to be Universal, free and compulsory, thereby emphasizing that the parents have obligations to send their children to school.

Furthermore, sanctions will be imposed on persons, societies, or institutions that prevent children, adolescents, and youth from benefiting from the programme (Nigerian Federal Ministry of Education, 2000). This harsh posture of the Federal Government in ensuring compliance with the Universal Basic Education Programme by all citizens is very laudable. It gives hope of bridging the wide gender disparity in the educational attainment of children in Nigeria in the near future.

1.2      Statement of the Problem

Education has been a tool for development in all nations of the world including Nigeria. Therefore, the Nigerian government under the leadership of President Olusegun Obasanjo decided to introduce the Universal Basic Education (UBE) programme to correct the existing distortions in the Basic Education sub-sector of the educational system. The level of illiteracy is increasing among the populations that are supposed to be the target of UBE. The rate of school dropout is increasing daily. The level of skills acquisition does not seem to be materializing for graduates of UBE. In view of the objectives of the Universal Basic Education programme, these essential limitations to education are needed to be looked into by Universal Basic Education. Why then do they still exist in Nigeria, especially in this contemporary world of globalization? Therefore, this study was designed to find out these problems, and why are not being tackled especially before it gets out of hand in Nigeria.

1.3      Objectives of the Study

            The main objective of this study is to appraise the advantages and implementation challenges of free education in Nigeria. The specific objectives include:

i)               To understand the factors or constraints that have made the implementation of educational policies difficult

ii)             To examine the strategies that can be adopted to ensure better policy implementation

iii)           To establish the relationship between the pupil’s enrolment and the implementation of the programme

iv)            To ascertain the relationship between the teachers and the UBE personnel and the implementation of the programme in Nigeria

1.4      Research Questions

The following research questions were raised to guide the researcher in the investigation of the problems thus:

i)               What factors or constraints have made the implementation of educational policies difficult?

ii)             What strategies can be adopted to ensure better policy implementation?

iii)           What is the relationship between the pupils’ enrolment and the implementation of the programme?

iv)            What is the relationship between the teachers and the UBE personnel and the implementation of the programme in Nigeria?

1.5      Research Hypotheses

The following research hypotheses were tested for this study:

i)               There is a significant relationship between pupils’ enrolment and the implementation of the programme

ii)             There is no significant relationship between the teachers and the UBE personnel and the implementation of the programme in Nigeria

1.6      Significance of the Study

            The significance of the study lies in its concern for the advantages and implementation challenges of free education in Nigeria and suggests ways of tackling constraints to the implementation if any. It is hoped that, if constraints are identified and solutions proffer, a lot of progress and improvement will be made in the programme implementation in Nigeria. The study can also provide the universal Basic Education planners, Administrators, the government and Associations and Organizations interested in the Universal Basic Education with vital information on how best to implement the programme in Nigeria.

1.7      Scope of the Study

            The study focused attention on the appraisal of the advantages and implementation challenges of free education in Nigeria by using Oyo state as a case study with a view to identifying constraints to the implementation of any and proffering solutions to make the programme better in terms of implementation in Oyo state. The study compared the responses of the Universal Basic Education personnel who are the planners and the teachers in the Universal Basic Schools who are the implementers of the outlined plans in ten (10) local government areas of Oyo state.

1.8      Definition of Terms

Education: a system of formal teaching and learning as conducted through schools and other institutions. Levels of education in modern societies can go from preschools to colleges and universities

Appraisal: A judge or opinion of something, especially one that assesses effectiveness or usefulness.

The UBE: Universal Basic Education, is a basic education meant for learners over a nine-year formal education.