The United Nations (UN) yesterday implored Nigeria to increase its education budget from seven per cent to 20.
It believes the country may not attain the global agenda for universal inclusive and equitable basic education for all school-age children by 2030 if the percentage remains thesame.
UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Matthias Schmale, made the call at the launch of the ‘Reports of the Independent Country-Led Evaluation of SDGs-3 and 4 in Nigeria’, by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The moves were welcomed by the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning and the ministries of health and education, with the support of the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) in Nigeria.
Schmale stated that in the 2022 budget, there was an increase to seven per cent on education, but the evaluation says it will need to raise it to 20 per cent.
He said: “Country-led evaluations are a critical tool to provide data regarding what is and isn’t working, why, and for whom, and where to best target our limited resources.
“Good data makes for good policy. Without it, we are flying blind.
“While the findings of these evaluations show some improving health and education outcomes in Nigeria, the reports also contain some worrying analysis.
“In relation to SDG-4 on quality education, it is, for example, concerning to note that Nigeria is unlikely to achieve the global agenda for universal inclusive and equitable basic education for all school-age children by 2030 if the current very low public investment in the education sector remains the same.
“The evaluation indicates that the right policies (especially around free basic education and gender) are in place, but an increase in quality and access to education is critical.
“In the 2022 budget, there was an increase to seven per cent on education, but the evaluation says it will need to increase to 20 per cent with clear accountabilities on delivery.
“Similarly, government resources for health financing are inadequate for the achievement of SDG-3 targets related to good health and well-being…
“We must collectively push forward with education and health sector specific transformative initiatives such as prioritizing and revitalizing basic Primary Health Care and improving the quality of teachers and learning in and out of classrooms”, he said.
Osinbajo stated that increasing basic educational financing up to 12 per cent at all levels was important.
He said: “The timing of the use of appropriated funds is also important.
“State governments should take advantage of the UBEC matching grants by making the required contributions.
“Educational stakeholders are encouraged to develop and strengthen coordination mechanisms that can help tighten the collaboration with information sharing between federal and the state on the one hand, and non-state actors on the other hand.”
The Vice President noted that with the adoption of the agenda and the SDGs, Nigeria has secured for itself a vision to end extreme poverty and protect our planet by the year 2030.
Senior Special Assistant to SDGs, Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire, stated that effective implementation of the SDGs needs periodic evaluation to ensure progress measurement, generate knowledge and inform policy shift.
She noted that the evaluation of SDGs 3 and 4 have been prioritized based on Nigeria’s national development priorities as stated in the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP -2017-2020).
“Going forward, we must as a nation enhance capacity building of policymakers and strengthening of data systems to support SDG evaluation and reviews”, she said.
Deputy UN Secretary-General, Amina Muhammed, said that by the reports, Nigeria acknowledge that health and education are bedrocks for sustainable and equitable development.
She noted that the report is also very timely as the recommendations on education aligned with the focus areas of the transforming education summit, including inclusive and equitable education, especially for girls.
“I encourage you all to swiftly turn these recommendations into actionable levels so that we can accelerate our implementation of the 2030 agenda,” she said.