PROJECT TOPIC- HIDDEN COST OF UPPER BASIC EDUCATION IN NIGERIA: A CASE STUDY OF ENUGU STATE
1.1 Background of the study
Education is a key index in development. It has been documented that schooling improves productivity, health and reduces negative features of life such as inferiority complex, child labour as well as bringing about empowerment (Subramanian, 2002). According to the National Planning Commission- NPC (2005), education opens the door for all citizens to participate in development activities and when citizens are denied education, they are excluded from the development process, which in turn puts them at a disadvantage vis-à-vis their compatriots with requisite education. This in fact explains the emphasis in recent times for all citizens to have access to basic education as a guarantee for good life. Education also helps to determine the distribution of employment and income for present and future generations through its influence on social welfare and health, fertility and life expectancy (Federal Republic of Nigeria, 2005).
It is in recognition of the importance of education to development that the international community and governments all over the world have made commitments for citizens to have access to education. This notwithstanding, it has been documented that across the globe, there are inequalities in educational access and achievement as well as high level of absolute educational deprivation of some children and adults (Action Aid, 2003).
In order to confront this challenge, the right based approach, which emphasizes the participation of citizens have been advocated. Meanwhile, the declaration of the World Conference on Education for All (WCEFA) which was made in Jomtien, Thailand in 1990 stated clearly in article one that “every person-child, youth and adult-shall be able to benefit from educational opportunities designed to meet their basic needs”. This declaration was reaffirmed at the world summit for children also held in 1990 which stated that all children should have access to basic education by the year 2000. The world summit for education placed a lot of emphasis on raising the levels of female literacy.
In a bid to achieve this goal of education, the Dakar world education forum was held as a follows up meeting to the WCEFA where new goals were set to be attained by the year 2015. These goals include; expanding and improving comprehensive early childhood care and education, especially for the most vulnerable and disadvantage children ensuring that by 2015 all children, with special emphasis on girls, children in difficult circumstances and from ethnic minorities have access to and complete free and compulsory education of good quality, ensuring that the learning needs of all young people and adults are met through equitable access to appropriate learning and life skill programmes, achieving a 50 percent improvement in levels of adult literacy by 2015, especially for women and equitable access to basic and continuing education for all adults, eliminating gender disparities in primary and secondary education by 2005, and achieving gender equality in education by 2015, with a focus ensuring girls full and equal access to and the achievement in basic education of good quality and improving all aspect of the quality of education and ensuring excellence for all so that recognized and reasonable learning outcomes are achieved especially in literacy, numeracy and essential life skills.
Two of the Dakar goals (goals 2 and 6) address the issue of quality education while the millennium development goals (MDGs) adopted in September 2000 at the United Nations Millennium declaration has two of the eight goals devoted to education. They are goals 2 (to achieve universal primary education and goals to promote gender equality and empower women) as noted above. The right to education is enshrined in many international human rights convention.
Similarly, the right of all Nigerians to education has always been provided for in the Nigerian constitution. It is in recognition of these that the government made education one of its priorities by introducing the Universal Basic Education (UBE). The UBE scheme was put in place to improve on the limitations of universal primary education of the 1970s.
The scheme was flagged off on the 30th of September, 1999 in Sokoto state by the former president. The specific objectives of the UBE scheme as stated by the federal ministry of education are developing in the entire citizenry a strong consciousness for education and a strong commitment to its vigorous promotion, the provision of free universal basic education for every Nigerian child of school age, reducing drastically the incidence of drop out from the formal school system (through relevance, quality and efficiency) catering for the learning needs of young persons who for one reason or another have had to interrupt their schooling through appropriate forms of complementary approaches to the provision and promotion of basic education and ensuring the acquisition of the appropriate level of literacy, numeracy, manipulative, communicative and life skills as well as the ethical, moral and civic values needed for laying a solid foundation for long life learning.
Officially, in accordance with the UBE documents, junior secondary school education is free. But in reality, it is quite different since the federal and state governments are unable to finance education fully from their budgets. The argument has always been whether the cost of education should be borne by the government or the individuals receiving the education. There have been a lot of debates about cost of education especially on who should bear the cost. The debate can be reduce to three groups.
The first group is made up of those who argue that the cost of education should be borne essentially by parents with government providing the enabling environment. They are of the view that education should be subjected to free market discipline. This group posits that families and individuals ought to pay fees in order to access nominally available public services other wise these service would not be available or their quality would become unacceptably low (action Aid, 2003).
The second group argues that education is a right which must be funded by the government. They argue that there are enough resources in the world to fund at least basic education for all the children. They posit that the problem is that of corruption, misplaced priority, inequality and poor policy choice. They argue that education should not only be free but also compulsory and that government should bear all the costs because even if the direct cost of education are borne by government the indirect cost (such as uniform, transport and school meals) may be beyond the capacity of the family while opportunity cost may be impossible to bear (Igbuzor, 1992).
The third group while coming from the rights based approach like the second group posits that education is a right and government must not only endeavor to remove all the barriers to education but must also take steps to utilize to the maximum of its available resources to achieve progressively the full realization of the right to education and other social and economic rights. According to this group, there are three layers of obligations in matter of social and economic rights. Obligation or respect, protect and fulfill, the obligation to respect requires states to refrain from interfering with social and economic rights e.g. refrain from forced eviction.
The obligation to protect requires states to prevent violations by third parties for example, ensuring that private employers comply with labour standards. The obligation to fulfill requires states to take appropriate legislative, administrative, budgetary and judicial. Irrespective of the positions of these three groups, the position of Nigerian government is clear; that primary and junior secondary education should be free and compulsory for all citizens. It is against these that the present study investigated the effects of hidden cost of upper basic education in Enugu State.
PROJECT TOPIC- HIDDEN COST OF UPPER BASIC EDUCATION IN NIGERIA: A CASE STUDY OF ENUGU STATE
1.2 Statement of Problem
Education For All (EFA) and Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have given governments an incentive to attain Universal Basic Education through accelerated and scaled strategies. Abolishing school fees and other costs of education are seen as measures adopted to improve enrolment and participation rates in schools. Enugu State is among the few States in Nigeria that have adopted free education for children at lower and upper basic levels.
This is because tuition fees and other private costs of schooling are viewed as a barrier to accessing and completing education especially basic education. The government of Nigeria in her Universal Basic Education programmme has stated that education is free and compulsory from primary 1-6 (Lower Basic) and J.S 1-3 (Upper Basic). It is obvious that free education entails tuition free; free feeding, free books; free accommodation, free transportation, free uniform and other personal uses of the learner.
Although Enugu State government has abolished school fees in primary and junior secondary, experience has shown that many challenges remain and that there are also consequences and hidden costs. The persistence of some kind of fees and other private costs of schooling remains a paradox, even when the State has officially and legally abolished fees. Abolition of school fees should not just be about “tuition fees” which do not necessarily constitute the main bulk of fees. It must take into consideration a wide range of costs. This means that any direct and indirect costs or charges such as tuition fees, costs of textbooks, supplies and uniforms, PTA contributions, costs related to sports and other school activities, transportation costs and contributions to teachers’ salaries.
Inability of the government to take care of all the costs of schooling in the Universal Basic Education has cast doubt over her free education policy in. Even though tuition fees have been abolished, other costs of education such as costs of textbooks, supplies and uniforms, PTA contributions etc; are being transferred to poor families.
Thus, parents who cannot afford to pay these other fees force their wards to sit at home and go into street hawking or as alternatives go into learning of some vocational skills to make ends meet. This conforms with the opinion of Boyle (2002) that fees, charges and contributions pose a barrier to education of poor school children. It is against this background that this study seeks to investigate the extent to which hidden cost of education impacts on school enrolment in upper basic education level in Enugu State, Nigeria.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The overall objective of the study is to investigate the hidden cost of Upper Basic Education in Nigeria: A Case Study of Enugu State.
Specifically, the research intends to:
1. Determine the level of financial burden borne by parents with children in Upper Basic Education.
2. Determine the coping strategies adopted by parents to avert the hidden costs of upper basic education.
3. Examine the effects of hidden costs on school enrolment in upper basic education in Enugu state