EDUCATION 2019: BUHARI PROPOSES N462.2B BUDGET

President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday said N462.2 billion had been earmarked for education 2019 budget proposal.

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Mr Buhari said; this in his budget presentation speech to a joint session of the National Assembly in Abuja on Wednesday.

According to the president, every child counts. ”This is the guiding principle of our national educational system and entails far-reaching actions to boost digital literacy, impart functional skills to our children, and re-train tens of thousands of teachers every year.

“Indeed, we must equip our children from a very young age with skills; for the modern era by emphasising education in science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics,” he said.

Meanwhile, the funds allocated to the sector, mostly for recurrent expenditure, is a bit higher than; the N435.1 billion allocated in 2018.

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Despite the marginal increase, it is still low by UNESCO standards. UNESCO recommends 15 to 20 per cent of budgetary allocation; to the education sector to enable nations adequately cater for rising demands.

Also, the government’s much-publicised commitment; to increase spending on education is being called to question particularly as university teachers have been on strike since November 4.

The university teachers are protesting poor funding of universities and the failure of government to implement an agreement it signed in 2009; with ASUU to improve facilities and enhance staff welfare at the institutions.

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Also, the Academic Staff of Union of Polytechnics (ASUP) has been on strike since December 12.

The teachers went on strike; over non-implementation of the NEEDS Assessment report of 2014, non-payment of salaries in state-owned institutions, non-payment of allowances and alleged victimisation of union members, among others.

Meanwhile, Colleges Of Education Academic Staff Union(COEASU) suspended over two months old strike on December 5.

The union said; it will reconvene in January to reassess government’s commitment and will not hesitate to stay away from work again if the government reneges on the agreement.

Apart from the commitment to provide more funds for universities, the government is also under pressure to address the menace of out-of-school-children also included in education 2019.

According to Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), Nigeria has about 13.2 million out- of- school children, the world’s highest.

Earlier in his presentation, President Buhari said; government proposed an estimated expenditure of N8.83 trillion for Education 2019, including grants and donor funds of N209.92 billion.

He said as part of the recurrent expenditure, personnel costs would gulp an estimated N2.29 trillion, nearly about 40 per cent of projected revenues.

A breakdown of the proposal shows about N4.04 trillion will go for recurrent costs; debt service (N2.14 trillion); statutory transfers (N492.36 billion); Sinking Fund (N120 billion); to be used to retire maturing bond to local contractors; and Capital Expenditure of N2.031 trillion.

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