Prioritise Public Education Conversation

Dear readers, the TOWN CRIER Twitter Team began its Weekly Tweet Chat on the 2nd of May, 2019. And the issues that concern the Nigeria education system have been the basis of discussion. We present to you below the Tweet Chat between the TC Twitter Team and Comrade Hassan Taiwo SOWETO. @HTSoweto talked about the state of public basic education in Nigeria and the implications of the 13.5 million Nigerian out-of-school children.

We hope you find it insightful. Thank you.


Hello, @Twitter Community. We welcome you to the #PrioritisePublicEducation Twitter Chat with @HTSoweto. We will be talking about the state of public basic education in Nigeria, and our focus will majorly rest on the recent alarming report by @UNESCO. #PrioritisePublicEducation

Recently, @UNESCO reports that 13.5 million Nigerian children are out-of-school. @HTSoweto, could you please tell us the implications of such report on Nigeria? #PrioritisePublicEducation

The @UNESCO report shows Nigeria is regressing & its a reminder to all of us of the disaster awaiting should the same capitalist policies of education uderfunding & privatisation continue. 13.5m out-of-school children could mean 13.5m armed robbers & kidnappers in few yrs to come.

Furthermore, the scale of out-of-school children will add to the sustenance of insecurity in the North & the deepening of crime & gang violence in other parts of the country. The result is a country on a fast lane to a violent eruption. #PrioritisePublicEducation END.

Q2. What are the responsible factors for the out-of-school children in Nigeria? @HTSoweto #PrioritisePublicEducation

(1) There are several factors obviously. Some are fundamental, some are secondary. For instance, the fundamental factor responsible for this sitaution is the dominant capitalist policies of education underfunding & privatisation. #PrioritisePublicEducation

(2) Successive govts at federal & state levels have reduced budgetary allocations to education. The little funds released are stolen or mismanaged by school administrators becuz of absence of democratic control & mgt of schools. #PrioritisePublicEducation

(3) The result is that there are too few schools compared to population. Other factors are poor facilities in schools which can have a certain effect, insecurity in N/E which has led to destruction of schools & abduction of school girls @town_crierng #PrioritisePublicEducation

(4) The failure of UBE is also a factor which tho linked to overall govt policy deserves special mention. UBE funds are routinely stolen. In many states, UBE projects do not match funds released. Consequently, school facilities remain inadequate #PrioritisePublicEducation. END

Q3. @HTSoweto, you stated “dominant capitalist policies of education underfunding & privatisation.” as part of the factors responsible for the 13.5 million Nigerian out-of-school children. Could you please buttress that point? Thanks. #PrioritisePublicEducation

(1) I mean the policies that has been followed the by successive govts in Nigeria most clearly since the 80s of lowering funds for education, introducing fees & promoting d idea that govt alone cannot provide education or free education is not possible #PrioritisePublicEducation

(2) These policies are supported by the ruling APC today & the PDP. These policies mean many working class parents find education too expensive. The results is that they do not send their children to school #PrioritisePublicEducation

(3) or they prioritise the male-children in order to “maximise” limited resources. That is why you have a large proportion of the girl child in the number of out-of-school children. #PrioritisePublicEducation @town_crierng. END

Q4. @HTSoweto, on budgetary allocation reduction, the Nigerian government has been consistent in stating its incapacitation to singularly fund public education. Mr. @WaleBabalakin, chairman of the government negotiation team with ASUU stated this position on behalf of the Nigerian government recently. @WaleBabalakin, however stated the introduction of tuition fees, as the only alternative to adequate funding of education. Do you not agree with him? What’s your view? @HTSoweto

(1) Of course I dont agree wit @WaleBabalakin. He needs to substantiate his claim that Nigeria has no capacity to fund public education. In my opinion, Nigeria is a stupendiously rich country capable of making education free at all levels #PrioritisePublicEducation

(2) the only reason Nigeria is unable to make education isnt lack of capacity but becuz it is not in the interest of capitalism to do so. Capitalism is a great obstacle for the development of humanity globally & in Nigeria #PrioritisePublicEducation

(3) In every country, on the basis of capitalism, we see so much wealth and so much inequality. So much empty palatial homes & so much homelessness. So much food & so much hunger. That’s d nature of capitalism #PrioritisePublicEducation

(4) @WaleBabalakin as one of the conscious rep of the system is simply repeating worn-out argument that flies in the face of reality. I have no doubt that Nigeria has the capacity to fund education adequately .. #PrioritisePublicEducation

(5) I am also certain that free education is possible on the basis of the present resources of Nigeria & its enormous economic potentials. But for this to be possible, we have to end capitalism & the greed of a few & place the key #PrioritisePublicEducation

(6) sectors of Nigeria’s economy e.g oil & gas, mines, heavy industry, agriculture, banks etc under public ownership and democratic workers control and mgt. This is the only way to ensure our enormous wealth is used for common good #PrioritisePublicEducation

(7) To put tins simply, how do we argue dat Nigeria has no capacity to fund education when we spend trillions annually 2 maintain 18,000 pol office holders? The problem in Nigeria is not too much pop but d fact dat 1% of d pop sits on 80% of wealth #PrioritisePublicEducation

(8) Neo-malthusians like to rationalise Nigeria’s backwardness on d basis of exploding pop. This is a lie. Our huge pop ought to be an advantage. End capitalism and enthrone a democratic socialist order & true progress can come the way of Nigeria #PrioritisePublicEducation. END

@HTSoweto, In item (4) of the factors causing out-of-school children, you stated: “UBE funds are routinely stolen. In many states, UBE projects do not match funds released. Consequently, school facilities remain inadequate.” Can you give instances? #PrioritisePublicEducation

(1) Unfortunately I don’t ave exampls at my fingertips now but I remember dat @town_crierng did an expose on rot in pry/secondary school facilities in a state in Nigeria. Dis is an example of enormous rot still existing since abt 12 yrs UBE took off #PrioritisePublicEducation. END

Q4. @HTSoweto, you stated that “The little funds released are stolen or mismanaged by school administrators becuz of absence of democratic control & mgt of schools.”

What’s your views of democratically controlled and managed schools/resources?


(1) The demand for a change in the way schools are managed as a basis to ensure funds are not mismanaged has been an historical demand of the std movt, ASUU & d labour movt #PrioritisePublicEducation

(2) We have never simply demanded more funds. We always have a corollary demand: for democratisation of the decision making organs of schools to include elected reps of std Union, staff unions & parents. This is to prevent mismanagement #PrioritisePublicEducation

(3) and also promote academic freedom & ensure that schools are run not as prison yards or military barracks with the Principal, VC, Rector or Provost acting as a garrison commander. @town_crierng #PrioritisePublicEducation

(4) Today in the absence of such kind of democratic mgts, funds released are routinely mismanaged and school admins act as dictators. Example abounds e.g. OAU, UI, LASU, LASPOTECH, AAUA #PrioritisePublicEducation

(5) Instead of meeting dis demand, govt has always refused & why? Becuz like i have pointed out, underfunding of education is not becuz there is no money. Rather it is becuz functional & universal public education is not in d best interest of capitalism #PrioritisePublicEducation

(6) if everyone is educated, how would they be employed in a neocolonial capitalist economy which is not producing new jobs at par with pop increase? So for our capitalist economic gurus, there is no point in investing in education. #PrioritisePublicEducation

(7) the other point is that in an economy which is not based on heavy industry but rather on extractive industry and a few investments in telecoms & service sector, education is increasingly viewed as a market for profit making & continuous funding #PrioritisePublicEducation

(8) is increasingly seen as an obstacle to ensuring wholesale privatisation of education. The public schools as bad as they are continue to rival the private ones and cut thru their ability to charge fees & attract enrolment. #PrioritisePublicEducation

(9) so the underfunding as well as the corruption & mismanagement going on in public schools is actually an ideological war to discredit public education & justify the need for govt to withdraw & allow private sector to take over. #PrioritisePublicEducation

(10) If we remember how NEPA was destroyed from within in order to discredit the idea of govt running things so as to promote the privatisation of the power sector in 2013 then we will understand my point in No 8. #PrioritisePublicEducation

(11) This is y govt doesn’t care abt corruption becuz dey can always use these examples of corruption to blackmail ASUU or stds for calling for more funds.The end point actually is to use dis, as in the case of NEPA, to drive wholesale privatisation #PrioritisePublicEducation. END

@HTSoweto, the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) qouted Nigerian Minister of Education, Mr. Adamu Adamu, thus: “the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), the World Bank, United Nations International Children Education Fund (UNICEF) and other development partners are collaborating to reduce the number of out-of-school children.” Isn’t this an expression of will to address the out-of-school situation and good news from the @MBuhari gov’t to the Nigerian out-of-school children and Nigeria at large? @HTSoweto

(1) It means nothing. This is d usual official statement of successive govt. If @MBuhari govt really means well this time, then what is d percentage allocation to education in 2019 budget? From my reckoning, it still a far cry from 26% #PrioritisePublicEducation

(2) If @MBuhari is serious, then we want 2 see budgetary allocation increase 3 a level dat matches d need of d sector & a Roadmap developed wit unions 2 begin 2 improve facilities, curriculum & make public education affordable & accessible 2 all #PrioritisePublicEducation. END

Thanks @HTSoweto for your thoughts so far concerning the Nigeria education system. We’re sure our readers are finding your responses informing. Can we have your views on how the out-of-school children can be integrated back into school? #PrioritisePublicEducation Thank you.

(1) The first thing is that the question of funding has to be resolved. So far the burden of education funding is on parents, out-of-school children will abound. Govt has to play the major role in funding public education. #PrioritisePublicEducation @town_crierng

(2) 2nd point is dat attention has 2 be focused on d insurgency & banditry-ravages NE & NW where d bulk of out-of-school children are. A speedy end to d violence, a rapid public works program of resettlement, rebuilding & reconstruction in these areas #PrioritisePublicEducation

(3) is urgently needed 2 ensure dat d out-of school children are able to re-start schooling and get their lives back alongside with their families. So far so little has been done in this regard despite so much funds dat has gone into resettlement progs #PrioritisePublicEducation

(4) Beyond the question of accessibility is also the question of retention. If children return to school, how do we make them stay in school. @MBuhari govt seems to prioritise feeding as if that’s d only problem #PrioritisePublicEducation @town_crierng

(5) Yes feeding is great but @MBuhari needs to understand that a school isnt a canteen. When a school has no facilities to teach with & teachers are unmotivated, if u like serve fried rice daily, it wont reflect in edu quality & progress for society #PrioritisePublicEducation

(6) So attention must be paid to school buildings & infrastructure, curriculum, library, toilets, offices for teachers, teacher:pupil ratio & their emoluments. This is the only way to ensure we are able to begin to reverse the trend #PrioritisePublicEducation @town_crierng

(7) Just to buttress, research shows that some female pupils are often absent from school for at least 5 days every month. This becuz most schools have very poor sanitary system & toilets are often bad. So during menstruation, female stds avoid schools #PrioritisePublicEducation

(8) So if physical facilities of schools are not improved as well as teaching materials and teachers recruitment & welfare taken care of, very little will be achieved in the quest to address the problem. #PrioritisePublicEducation @town_crierng

(9) But it is doubtful that @MBuhari and the APC can do any of these without mass struggles developing. We need the NUT, ASUU, the std & labour movt to lead a mass campaign to compel govt to address the out-of-school phenomenon #PrioritisePublicEducation @town_crierng. END

This is where we officially end today’s discussion. Much thanks to our guest @HTSoweto for his time and willingness to share his idea on how to salvage the current tragic state of public education in Nigeria. #PrioritisePublicEducation

Thanks to our partners @DaSTReet5 of @NaijaResistance, @NewVoicesNG, @ANSA_Struggle and @frederi61770022 of the Amilcar Cabral Ideological School-Movement ACIS-M. Many thanks to everyone who kept the day with us and followed the #PrioritisePublicEducation Tweet Chat.

We hope that the Nigeria gov’t will realize that to #PrioritisePublicEducation remains the remedy to the rot within the sector.

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