by Bestman Michael

If you are familiar with most online newspapers, you must have seen the headlines that read: “FG promises to increase education budget to 25%”. “Promises”, that is the word. And over the years, this has been the story, with little or no effort to revitalise the education sector.

It is important to reiterate within this backdrop that the Tinubu regime had earlier in June 2023, approved the Student Loan Scheme that would run from January 2024. The conditionalities to accessing this loan are extremely strident that it will be eacy for camel to go through the eye of needle than for any student from a working-class background to access the loan. this is not to mention how it will further bastardise public education in the country as we have seen with public universities already increasing school fees by over 100%.

Despite UNESCO’s benchmarks of 15% to 21% budgetary allocations to the education sector, the percentages have, over time, reflected poor funding. According to the Cable, the highest under President Buhari’s eight years in office was only in 2019, when the education sector had 8.4% of the budget— that is, N745.53 billion naira— which is barely up to the recommended benchmarks by UNESCO—the proposed 2024 budget by the Tinubu government place the education sector at a 6.39%.

Flowing from this, as recent statistics into the estimated percentages allocated to education have shown (2015-2023), it is clear the government is unwilling to prioritise education or live up to its responsibilities to ensure everyone has access to free, publicly funded education across levels. Rather, the government is highly bent on its plans to commercialise, privatised public education and, by extension, push more students from working-class homes out of school.

According to UNESCO, 20.2 million children and youth are estimated to be out of school— making this the highest figure in Africa & 3rd globally (not to mention that a whopping 133 million people are multi-dimensionally poor). To make matters worse, the 109 public universities are in complete jeopardy: the education facilities are poor, students’ living conditions are both unhygienic and nothing to write about, and the learning environment is barely conducive. ( )

And while the government keeps promising to prioritise education, at the say time shouting from the roof top that there is no money, but within the orbit of neo-liberalism and jumbo salaries for elected and appointed public officials, the necessary vital resources of the country need to fund education disappears into the pocket of private profiteers,

We have seen years of ASUU strikes calling for the revitalisation of public education and better working conditions, without any positive response from government, agreement signed not adhered in any sense. In addition, the management of most public universities has used this poor funding as a tool to further perpetrate attacks on students, student unionism/activism, and working-class parents with its unruly, insensitive policies of increase in schools fees charges amidst the economic hardship the same government has created under the capitalist philosophy to accommodate Big Businesses and profit— even if it means robbing the poor.

It will not be far-fetched to place everything in perspective as one regime after another keeps demonstrating its unwillingness to place the needs of the people first. Its profit-oriented philosophy, by the mantras or guise they have come and further evident with the Tinubu regime, is to continue to amass the country’s wealth to serve their selfish interest and their cohorts at the expense of the Nigerian masses.

Therefore, students from across the campuses must join in solidarity with the ASUU/NASU demands to call for the proper funding of the education sector, improved living and working conditions, and reversal of the hike in fees across campuses in the country. Beyond this, these solidarity movements must also be linked with the working class’s struggle to overthrow the capitalist system generally, as well as being globally responsible for the degenerating crises in virtually all key sectors of the economy. Only a socialist economy democratically managed and controlled by the working class can salvage them from the unruly attacks imposed by the capitalist cronies the world over. The struggle continues. Viva socialism!