“Education is the great engine of personal development. It is through education that the daughter of a peasant can become a doctor, that the son of a mineworker can become the head of the mine, that a child of farmworkers can become the president of a great nation. It is what we have, not what we are given, that separates one person from another.” Nelson Mandela.
Education is critical to the development of any society or country, it is indeed the bedrock of development, empowerment in any country. Education gives protection, hope and prosperous future to an individual. There is no meaningful, steady development in any given country without education, the reason why countries invest huge finances, administration, enabling facility into the sector to secure and protect their tomorrow. There is a crisis in the Nigerian education system, no doubt, caused by callousness, ineptitude, inefficiency, cluelessness, corruption of, by the leadership and governance in the country since 1999. Rather than the standard of education to improve, it is nosediving. It is not strange to observe that the Nigerian education system, management, funding is and was not taken seriously by successive governments over the years thereby trading off solid standard that can compete internationally.
Nigeria of the next 50 years, can only be built on education, the education of its children and youths. No future can be hopeful when the real foundation (education) is ignored, neglected and treated with abandonment. Education comprises of both academic and development of the mind, body and soul, it makes a man think, become wise, act with clarity. Education helps build and advance society and, it is when people acquire the education that they can build and advance society. The unseriousness attached to education by the present leaders does not hold the future for the country. Millions of Nigerian children, youths are denied education, especially children from poor homes, who live in rural communities by the corrupt tendencies of the leaders in power. Budgets are yearly passed in support of education but are diverted or mismanaged bringing us to the sorry state we have found ourselves.
Resource Centre for Human Rights and Civic Education, CHRICED – is a Nigerian based civil rights group working for the promotion of human rights, rule of law, democracy and accountability. It is mobilizing state and non-state actors towards accountable and responsive use of resources for the collective well-being of all. In its work, CHRICED has pursued government efforts at delivering Universal Basic Education (UBE) in some states in northern Nigeria, example, Kaduna and Kano. UBE will play a significant role in helping to achieve literacy amongst its children and youths, fighting poverty and disease, building a better and guaranteed tomorrow among Nigerian children if it is well managed. There is legislation to ensure that every school-age child is in school but the system as it is currently run has failed millions of Nigerian children who are denied their fundamental human rights to education.
Since 1999 – 2019, substantial funding has been made available both at the centre and states for the purpose of minimizing the level of illiteracy in the country yet, the problem remains and has even worsened. It is CHRICED’s believe that it is not about the amount of money that is budgeted but the loopholes that remain open for the monies to be siphoned. CHRICED is interested in tracing, uncovering, and recovering the looted funds and putting it back to the exact place (education) it is meant for, and ensuring that the perpetrators are arrested, prosecuted and punished for other willing looters to be deterred. CHRICED recognizes that Section 18 (a) of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic (as amended) supports that every child must be given a “free, compulsory and universal primary education.” It is ensuring that the Nigerian government obeys its laws, help the deprived children get education from qualified teachers, in a decent environment that CHRICED has embarked on this mission. There are several public schools without qualified teachers, good infrastructures that aid learning. No good toilet, portable water, classrooms, office buildings that make the learning environment conducive. The worst-hit of this deficiency in a learning environment is the rural communities where the government and its education departments hardly get to.
An important dimension put forward by CHRICED as an intervention to promote quality basic education services has been the creation of a platform for dialogue between the demand and supply side of UBE services. CHRICED is insisting that there are accountability and transparency in its finance spending, efficient management, adequate facility and qualified teachers in the schools. CHRICED is on this to minimize corruption and financial loopholes that causes illiteracy, denying the children of a better and secured future. Nigeria is fit to give free education to its children if only our resources are not mismanaged by officials of the state. Corruption is one of the banes of our development and growth as a country. Monies are not judiciously used for the development of the country rather they end up in private accounts thereby, setting the country backwards.
CHRICED discovered the complete absence of the communities in UBE projects and, had to train youth leaders, community, traditional and religious leaders, women groups, headteachers to become part of the whole process. They now monitor, participate in the design and implementation projects ensuring UBE projects are not just available but achievable. The whole essence of community involvement is all geared towards ensuring that the funds meant for basic education are not diverted to another area or for other purposes. The monitoring of education spending must be addressed to reduce illiteracy, poverty, sickness, disease and underdevelopment to its barest minimum.
CHRICED observed the selfish interests among the top managers of the state bureaucracy that promotes corruption hence, state agencies cannot be fully relied upon to provide checks. The citizens remain the reliable force to demand transparency and accountability using civil pressure on relevant agencies to press home their demands.