Nigeria: Beyond NEC’s 15 per cent for education

Africa/ Nigeria/ 14.11.2018/ Source:

THE National Economic Council recently made a crucial decision in its proposal to federal and state governments to allocate 15 per cent of their annual budgets to education in furtherance of a state of emergency declared in that sector. Many stakeholders had before now, advocated this initiative, against the backdrop of the total collapse of the system, from the basic to tertiary levels. In 2018, N605.8 billion was allocated to the sector by the Federal Government, representing seven per cent of the N8.6 trillion budget.

A special task force or committee will be set up to manage the funds at all levels of government and also oversee infrastructure overhaul in selected schools. The Deputy Governor of Edo State, Philip Shaibu, who elaborated on the proposal, said the primary school level was the focus, just as the entire reform will be anchored on a strategic plan of action already designed by the Federal Ministry of Education. He said, “If we address basic education and the foundation is well laid at that level, obviously, the problems in the secondary and tertiary education would have been half solved.”

The strategic document places emphasis on: out-of-school children; adult literacy and physically challenged; science, technology and mathematics; technical and vocational; teacher education; quality and access to tertiary education; ICT in education and improved library services.

Across the 36 states, many primary schools are dilapidated: pupils sit on the bare floor to learn; in the North, especially in Sokoto State, “more than 50 per cent of the entire teachers in the state cannot read” instructional materials supplied to schools, the then Executive Secretary, Universal Basic Education Commission, Ibrahim Moddibo, said in 2012. In Kaduna State within the same period, 21,780 teachers out of 33,000 failed a primary four pupils test, a shocking revelation that Kwara State also experienced. Added to this incongruous mix is the perennial delay in the payment of teachers’ salaries.

The NEC prognosis is right. But this is a minor point at issue, considering that similar attempts in the past were not allowed to work. In fact, the percentage of the budget devoted to education is not as critical as the faulty implementation strategies and monstrous corruption that trammels every national endeavour. In an attempt to make education more functional, the 6-3-3-4 system was introduced, with emphasis on continuous assessment, technical knowledge acquisition and guidance counselling.

However, the country made a total mess of the scheme: teachers for the technical subjects and workshop equipment were not available, just as the transition from Junior Secondary School 3 to Senior Secondary School 1 was automatic for every pupil. Emergency contractors, mostly fronts for the bureaucrats, milked the system. Absurdly, many years after the country inaugurated the system, equipment imported for it was discovered abandoned at the Lagos seaport.

Interventionist funds like UBEC grants and Tertiary Education Trust Fund have been designed to improve the standard of education. But many state governors divert grants for fixing primary schools to other priority areas or embezzle them outright. It is an abuse of office for which some former governors are being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission. In many cases, they fail to provide their counterpart funding or meet other due process requirements. This is why N86 billion meant for states was idle as of September.

The situation is not different at TETFund. Its Executive Secretary, Abdullahi Baffa, in July, visited the EFCC acting-Chairman, Ibrahim Magu, and requested his assistance “to tackle the menace of inappropriate projects, abandoned projects, mismanaged funds, and stolen funds, which are almost grounding the institutions.” Angered by how institutions treat the grants as slush funds, President Muhammadu Buhari did not approve TETFund 2017 interventions. But in 2016, it received N213 billion from which universities, polytechnics and colleges of education were allocated N1 billion, N691.6 million and N679 million, respectively.

This is a malodorous landscape that must be cleansed for any serious educational revival to take place.  Therefore, giving education priority attention must go beyond official rhetoric. Understanding the fact that education is the bedrock of economic development and the wealth of nations is imperative. Countries in Europe, America and parts of Asia, which have transited from the Industrial Revolution to the Third Revolution – the digital age, are now embracing the Fourth Revolution – the age of quantum computing, robotics, artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, autonomous vehicle and 3D printing. They have made the point that investment in productive knowledge makes all the difference. This has brought them enormous wealth and high standard of living.

Nigeria may have been centuries behind, yet, it has to begin the race, which the state of emergency in education symbolises, if successfully executed. Consequently, rather than continue to merely “fund education” without the desired results, it should now “invest in education.” The quality of education cannot rise above the level of the teachers. This is why training and retraining teachers; their motivation; creating an ideal environment for learning to take place; providing instructional materials and effective school supervision should be areas of special focus. Without functional basic and secondary education, Nigeria’s entire education architecture is a superstructure erected on quicksand.

It is for this reason that universities now decry the quality of their intakes. University education in Nigeria has become a huge joke with many misfits serving as administrators and the increasing number of such schools. The base, absurd principle of: “let us establish them first, after which the issue of funding would be addressed,” should stop. With existing funding gaps that provoke the Academic Staff Union of Universities to strike regularly; obsolete libraries and science laboratories, shortage of hostels, lecture halls and the alarming mismatch in the teacher and student ratio, higher institutions of learning in Nigeria should be helped to rediscover their very essence.

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Nigeria: State Of Emergency To Be Declared In Education Sector – Minister

Nigeria/January 30, 2018/Source:

Malam Adamu Adamu, Minister of Education on Monday said  the Federal Government would declare a state of emergency in the education sector in April.

He made this disclosure when he received Gov. Abubakar Sani-Bello of Niger and some members of his cabinet at the Federal Ministry of Education Headquarters in Abuja.

Adamu requested the support of all states governors to do the same in their respective states.

“By the end of April, we are proposing there will be a declaration of state of emergency in the education sector all over the country.

“We request all the state governors to do same in their states and we hope that once this is done our educational sector will improve.

“I will also meet with the governors to appeal to them to give special emphasis to address the problem of low standard of education especially at primary level,” he said.

The minister said the ministry was planing to present a proposal to the National Council of State for graduates of education to henceforth be employed on Grade Level 10 of eight.

He said the proposal would also include offering employment to students studying education in tertiary institutions.

Earlier, Bello, said that the state government was revamping the educational sector through provision of good infrastructure in schools and training of teachers.

He said that the state government planned to establish three teachers professional institute in the three zones, adding that one was already being established in Munya Local Government Area.

The governor solicited the support of the minister on the development of the institutions.


State of emergency to be declared in education sector – Minister

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Turkey launches ground operation in Syria

Asia / Turkía / 28 de agosto de 2016 / Por: Mehmet Yılmaz Istambul

Although Turkish army claims to be fighting ISIS to legitimize the invasion, its real objective is to stop the advance of Kurdish militia, the only progressive force on the ground.

In a critical development in the Syrian civil war, the Turkish army and allies began a ground incursion towards the Syrian border city of Jarablus on the morning of August 24. Turkish artillery and jets, supported by US military advisers, warplanes and drones, started pounding ISIS targets at around 4 a.m. local time. This was followed by a land operation at 11 a.m. by Turkish special forces and tanks, as well as 1,500 Syrian radical Islamist fighters. These fighters, according to BBC Turkish, were brought a few days ago from Idlib by Turkish officers and grouped on the Turkish side of the border.

As of the writing of this piece, invading forces are advancing surprisingly rapidly, conquering village after village, and have already captured Jarablus as of at around 7 p.m. local time with only one casualty. Indeed, Kurdish sources argue that this is a mock fight, as ISIS is evacuating its troops from Jarablus, which has become a burden for it after the loss of Manbij.

Although the Turkish army is now vowing to «completely wipe out» ISIS, the real aim of the operation is to preempt an attack by the Kurdish militia towards Jarablus. Following recent victories against ISIS, culminating in the liberation of Manbij on August 12, the Kurdish YPG (Peoples’ Defense Units) and allies control a very large part of northern Syria, with the exception of the swathe of land between Jarablus and Marea. The US wanted them to march on ISIS’ main base in Raqqa, however, Kurds announced the establishment of military councils to liberate Jarablus and Al-Bab, so as to unite their cantons in the north.

Turkey vs ISIS?

Despite all its rhetoric, the Turkish government does not really see ISIS as an enemy. ISIS has controlled Jarablus since July 2013, and so far, it had never occurred to Turkey to launch an operation. On the contrary, Turkey perceived ISIS as a bulwark against the Kurdish militia. Numerous regional and Western journalists have indicated that Turkey is supplying arms and materials to ISIS, and buying crude oil from the group to be processed in state refineries. Turkey also supports other radical Islamist groups part of the so-called Army of Conquest, which are now in control of the Idlib province and southern Aleppo. The ground forces that now march on Jarablus hail from these radical Islamists, such as Sham Legion and Noureddin Zenki Movement, which decapitated a child on video last month, although they are described as “Free Syrian Army” -the existence of which is disputed by many.

So Turkey simply wants to replace one radical Islamist group, unable to stop the Kurdish forces, with others under its direct control. It is not an operation against “terrorists”, but simply a maneuver to block the advance of the most progressive force in Syria, the Kurdish militia.

Indeed, Syrian Kurdish leader Saleh Muslim wrote on his Twitter account, “Turkey is now in the Syrian quagmire, and will be defeated like ISIS.” In response, Turkish Foreign Minister threatened that Kurds have to abandon Manbij and retreat to the east of Euphrates, or else “face our ‘hammer-like’ response.”

Holy union against the Kurds

In fact, not only Turkey but the major forces involved in Syria seem to have turned their back on the Kurds following their latest gains.

US Vice President Joe Biden arrived in Turkey on Wednesday, and stated that the US supports Turkey’s position, demanding Kurdish forces to abandon Manbij. So far US warplanes had backed the Kurdish militia, the only force capable of stopping ISIS on the ground. Yet the US is also aware that the Kurdish advance risks alienating its NATO ally, Turkey. In fact, after the failed coup of July 15 against the Turkish government, the Turkish president Erdoğan had implied that US could be behind the coup, and the relations between the two countries had soured. It may be argued that the US has now decided to allow Turkey to invade Jarablus before the Kurds, to prevent a further Turkish pivot towards Iran and Russia (and also to check the power of the Kurds).

Even before the failed coup attempt, Turkey had started to cozy up to Russia and Iran, apologizing for downing a Russian plane in November 2015. Right after the coup attempt surfaced, Iranian diplomats called Erdoğan to announce their full support, even as their American and European colleagues waited to see which side would prevail. The seasoned Iranian diplomats are cognizant that Assad’s ground forces are exhausted — as can be seen in Hasakah or Aleppo — and that they eventually need to strike a deal with Turkey, one of the main backers of radical Islamists in Syria. Iran and Turkey also share a common animosity against the rising influence of Syrian Kurds, which could encourage their own Kurdish subjects. On the other hand, some journalists suggest that Russia does not want Assad to fully prevail against the Islamist opposition, since the continuity of a low-intensity conflict would indeed give Russians the perfect pretext to maintain their military presence in Syria—just like in the Caucasus region. As a result, Russia and Iran may have given the green light to a limited Turkish incursion, even though they have officially stated their concerns over Turkey’s ground operation.

There was intense shuttle diplomacy between Turkey, Iran and Russia in recent weeks, during which the Turkish government implied that it could now accept a transition with Assad. This was followed by Syrian air and land forces’ attacks (which failed bitterly) on the Kurdish-controlled town of Hasakah, the first major regime assault against the Kurds since the beginning of the conflict. Meanwhile, ISIS organized a suicide attack in the town of Gaziantep in Turkey, killing 54 people in a Kurdish wedding ceremony. Turkish intelligence knew the plans for such an attack, yet did not take any action to prevent it.

Erdoğan’s nationalist bloc

The war against the Kurds also serves Erdoğan’s domestic policy purposes. Despite the extensive purge in the state apparatus following the coup attempt, Erdoğan has implied that he still does not have full confidence in some sectors of the general staff and the national intelligence service. Precisely for this reason, Erdoğan chose to improve his relations with the bourgeois opposition (center-left CHP and ultra-nationalist MHP), virtually creating a nationalist bloc which culminated in a demonstration attended by one million people in Istanbul. Many ‘opposition’ MPs, far from criticizing the state of emergency declared by Erdoğan, instead employ his arguments accusing the coup-plotters of every problem in Turkey.

As such, a military maneuver towards the Syrian Kurdish provinces is also an effective way for Erdoğan to bolster this nationalist bloc within Turkey, and pave the way for the constitutional transition to an authoritarian presidential system. Unsurprisingly, CHP and MHP leaders expressed their full support of the military invasion.

However, although Turkey thinks that it can easily have its way, a direct military involvement in the Syrian civil war brings huge risks. There is already a strong presence of radical Islamist groups on the Turkish side of the border. The invasion of Syrian Kurdistan will further fuel the anger of Turkey’s Kurds towards the state. As such, the road seems to be opened for an escalation of inter-ethnic tension and conflict within Turkey as well.


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