Nigeria – Achieve universal primary education
By- Ruchi Nandu
Nigeria is making some real progress in achieving the universal primary education millennium development goal. More people are starting school and are sufficiently nourished to be able to pay attention and learn in schools. Nearly 9 out of 10 children i.e. 88.8% are enrolled in schools. State primary completion rates range from 2 % to 99%. However, to complete the millennium development goal, the North of the country has to progress quickly.
The number of students enrolling into primary education has always fluctuated. Data provided by the educational authorities show that the proportion of students who survived in 2000 was 97%, but it is currently only 72.3%. (Nigeria, MDG report, 2010)
With the steady increase in net primary enrollment there is a decrease in the proportion of students starting Primary 1 to reach Primary 5. More students are dropping out in the course of their education. If these are not controlled, Nigeria will not complete the millennium development goal of 2015.
Lagos state has the highest ratio of students i.e. starting Primary 1 and completing Primary 5.On the other hand, Akwa Ibom State has the lowest ratio. When compared regional wise – South West – 91.7% and North Central – 67.7% is not too marked (National Bureau of Statistics 2009, provisional figures).
The literacy rates of the Youths in the urban areas aged 15-24 can read and write in any language with their understanding. The literacy rate in 2000 for this age group was 64.1% but it declined in 2003 to 60.4% (Nigeria, MDG report, 2010). If the progress made over the last four years is maintained than the youth literacy rate should be around 87 per cent in 2015.
The low progress rates reflect poor learning environment and that there is a need to raise the teaching standards. The ratio of rapid improvement in youth literacy, from 64.1% to 80 % between 2000 and 2008 has not increased after 2008.
The Universal Basic Education Scheme is a promising initiative that needs to be reformed and strengthened. The Federal Teachers’ Scheme and in-service training by the National Teachers’ Institute have begun to address the urgent need to improve the quality of teaching. To continue progress and reduce regional disparities, these initiatives need to be rapidly expanded and improved. . In 2009, 120,000 primary school teachers were involved in a capacity-building programme.
The Universal Basic Education Counterpart Grants Scheme is a project started by the government that promises to improve the education funding. Condition for accessing these 75% funds are that each state should provide a counterpart fund (Matching fund) and provide evidence of good use of previous allocations.
Nigeria is far from achieving the universal primary education Millennium Development Goal. They will have to strive very hard to achieve that goal.