Introduction There is no gainsaying the fact that education is very vital to the pace of social, political and economic development of any nation. This is why most nations of the world strive to devote a sizeable proportion of their Gross National Income to develop the educational sector. In Nigeria, between 7. 6% and 9. 9% of our annual expenditure is devoted to education. Management of primary education refers to the process of planning, organizing, directing, staffing, coordinating, budgeting for and reporting on primary education system.
Primary education in Nigeria refers to the education which children receive from the age of 6 years to 11 years plus. It is the foundation level of the educational system which runs for six years, and it is aimed at developing basic literacy, numeracy, communication skills and transmission of the culture of the people to younger generations. Information gathered through the education data bank shows that as at 1998, there were 41,814 primary schools with an enrolment of 16,348,324 (13. 75% of these were females) and 468,770 teachers (26. 45%) of these were non-qualified teachers).
The teacher/pupil ratio at the level was 1:38 while the completion rate was 64. 1 percent and the Crucial Issues in the Management of Primary Education in Nigeria74 transition rate of products to Junior Secondary Education level was 39. 1 percent. The structure of our population in Nigeria is such that about 45% of the people are within the age bracket of six to twelve years. According to the provisions of National Policy on Education, this is the corresponding age group for primary education. Obviously, the enrolment pattern in the educational system follows the pyramidal structure of the nation’s population distribution.
The primary level has the largest enrolment, followed by the secondary level and then the tertiary level. This enrolment structure, no doubt, depicts the structure of our social demand for the various levels of education. The primary education level, being the bedrock of the child’s basic education, is a very vital aspect of the nation’s educational system that deserves to be handled with great care and caution. Any error committed in the organization and management of this level of education may reverberate on other levels and thus seriously mar the lives of the people and indeed the overall development of the nation.
This is one good reason why all the stakeholders must show enough concern for those issues that concern the organizing and managing of our primary education system. This paper presents a humble attempt to highlight some contemporary issues and problems facing the organization and management of primary education in Nigeria with a view to proffering possible solutions to them. Contemporary Issues in Primary Education Management No doubt, there are numerous issues and problems involved in the management of primary education system in Nigeria.
However, this paper would simply highlight some of the crucial ones. Some of such issues include: a. Policy gap in the management of primary education in Nigeria, b. Data gaps, c. Funding gaps, d. Institutional capacity gaps, e. Expansion of the curriculum to cater for early childhood care, f. Gender balancing in enrolment, g. Quality assurance in Primary Education, h. Improved nutrition/Health of learners and i. Issues of HIV/AIDS pandemic 75D. O. Durosaro Over the last two decades, the management of primary education had been experiencing some problems as a result of policy gaps.
Teachers salaries were not paid adequately, schools were not well-maintained and facilities were not adequately provided owing to the fact that management of primary education had to be oscillating among State Government, Local Government and Federal Government. At a time, State Government took control, later it was handed over to the Local Government and then to a Federal Commission. Moreover, it was just until lately that a concrete legislation was passed on primary education in Nigeria – the UBE Bill. Lack of accurate and timely data has long been the bane of policy formulation and management of our primary education system in Nigeria.
To obtain accurate data on enrolment, teachers, non-teaching staff and even facilities appears to be a difficult task for the school managers. The school managers and teachers appear to lack adequate cognitive development in the areas of data collection, analysis and storage. Apart from this lack of capacity of the school managers, school data collection and analysis seem to be marred by other socio-politico-economic factors such as fraud, politics of national resource allocation and social apathy. Another issue of concern in the management of primary education in Nigeria is that of inadequate funding.
According to a World Bank survey on Nigeria, the federal expenditure on education seems to be below 10% of its overall expenditures. For instance, between 1997 and 2002, the total share of education in total federal expenditure ranged between 9. 9% and 7. 6% with the trend showing a downward plunge (World Bank, 2002). Table 1: Federal Government Expenditure on Education as Percentage of total Federal Government Expenditure 1997 – 2002 _________________________________________________________ Expenditure199719981999200020012002 Area%%%%%% Recurrent12. 312. 011. 79. 49. 59. 1 Capital6. 17. 55. 08. 56. 06. 0 Total9.
99. 69. 09. 07. 58. 0 Source: FGN, Annual Budgets 1997-2002 It would have been more interesting to spell out what proportion of this expenditure on education actually goes to primary education but the non¬ Crucial Issues in the Management of Primary Education in Nigeria76 availability of accurate data did not permit this. It is even worth mentioning here that the bulk of this meager expenditure shown on Table 1 even goes to recurrent activities. This issue of under-funding of education U so endemic that it has now encompassed series of other problems of shortages of human and material resources (Durosaro, 2000).
The current pattern of investment within the education sector is such that the tertiary level gets the lion share while the primary level gets the least. This pattern is inversely related to number of institutions, enrolment and teachers at the different education levels. Table 2 presents the data on the pattern of funding of the educational levels by the Federal government. Table 2: Pattern of Federal Government funding of Education by levels, more 1996 – 2002 ____________________________________________________________ __ Educ.
1996199719981999200020012002 Levels%%%%%%% Tertiary79. 978. 968. 469. 175. 868. 176. 9 Secondary10. 411. 314. 618. 715. 315. 515. 6 Primary9. 79. 816. 912. 28. 916. 47. 5 Total100. 0100. 0100. 0100. 0100. 0100. 0100. 0 The issue of gaps in the institutional capacity to deliver primary education of a sound quality is also crucial in the management of primary education in Nigeria. It is a known fact that most of our institutions do not have vision whether written or unwritten nor a mission statement to guide their activities.
There is widespread shortage of qualified teachers, shortage of even classrooms, shortage of both pupils’ and teachers’ furniture and a dearth of required fund, teaching materials and textbooks. In a survey conducted on primary education cost, financing and management in Federal Capital Territory, Kogi, Kwara and Niger States, it was discovered that only f9. 57% of the schools in Kwara and 27. 08% of the schools in FCT had school libraries while none of the schools in both Kogi and Niger States had any school library. It was also found that 24% of schools in Kogi State, 21% of schools in Kwara State, 40.
3% of schools in Niger State and 16. 75% of schools in FCT were not using any form of wall charts teaching aids (Abdulkareem and Umar, 1997). All these gaps have combined with frequent teachers’ strikes and absenteeism in recent years to weaken the capacity of the institutions to deliver sound primary education. 77D. O. Durosaro Furthermore, there is an emerging issue of great importance in the management of primary education in Nigeria. This is that of restructuring the level by expanding it to accommodate both the early childhood care and the pre-primary education curriculum.
This is now a burning issue in view of the level of social poverty and the need for poverty alleviation by economic empowerment of women. Stakeholders in primary education are now being mobilized towards this direction with a view to encouraging both public and private participation. This issue will however have grave implications for funding, personnel, facilities, curriculum development and monitoring. A related dimension of this issue is that of expanding and restructuring the system to also cater adequately for the almajiris, area boys, street children and disabled school-age populace across the nation.
Furthermore, the issue of poor enrolment in primary schools in some special areas should be of great importance to primary education management in Nigeria. This issue has three major dimensions. The first is that of how to ensure gender balance in enrolment in some parts of the country. Owing to some socio-cultural factors in some parts of the country, female enrolment needs to be improved. In another part, it is the male enrolment that needs improvement. But in majority of cases, the second dimension is that of non-enrolment in public schools. Parents prefer the private school since they appear more effective.
The third dimension of this issue is ensuring retention and completion once enrolled. Resolving this issue is closely connected to the next issue of poverty alleviation and provision of good nutrition for children. The issue of poverty alleviation is more about the parents and the wider social constituency of primary education. This phenomenon impacts greatly on schooling particularly at the primary level. Owing to poverty, parents cannot afford to buy school uniforms, books, pay transportation cost and even provide good nutrition for their children.
These impair both teaching and learning. There is no doubt that the primary school management should find a way of intervening in assisting the pupils within the national framework of poverty alleviation scheme. Some States have already introduced free mid-day meal service to primary schools. This meal service has some implications for school management to ensure it is . not counter-productive. Nutritional well-being in childhood has been shown to have large benefit on school performance as well as physical and mental capacity in later life (World Bank, 2003).
Crucial Issues in the Management of Primary Education in Nigeria78 A similar issue which could also impact seriously on primary education is that of HIV/AIDS pandemic. This could have impact on both teachers and students and its effect on parents or guardians of the pupils could spill¬over to the school. It was reported in 2001 that the prevalence rate was 5. 8% of teachers nationally (World Ban, 2003). Across the federation, it was found to range between 1. 8% of teacher population in Jigawa and 13. 5% of the teacher population in Benue.
This disease was found to be prevalent in the age-group 20 – 24 years which forms the core age group from which primary school teachers are recruited in Nigeria. Table 3: Projected Teacher Attrition due to HIV/AIDS Pandemic in Selected States of Nigeria, 2003 ____________________________________________________________ __ StatesNo. of TeachersPrevalence rateAttrition of % of HIV/A IDSTeachers Benue1384813. 5185 Lagos180405. 590 Plateau175265. 098 Rivers83215. 542 Table 3 presents the projected attrition of teachers due to HIV/AIDS disease in some selected States of Nigeria.
This projection is based on the rates found for these States in a previous survey reported by the World Bank. Given the clear fact that AIDS is real and the spread is growing, there is the need to estimate its likely impact on the primary education management in Nigeria and ensure the problems are contained. This could be done through creation of HIV/AIDS awareness programmes on the school curriculum for both learners, teacher and even parents. Expert could be invited to assist in enlightening the school community on how to combat the spread of this pandemics.
Conclusion It is quite clear from the foregoing that for primary education in Nigeria to achieve its stated objectives, these crucial issues of policy, funding, data, curriculum review and capacity buildings gaps must be squarely addressed by education managers in Nigeria. In addition, the issues of genderization, poverty alleviation, pupils’ and teachers’ health and nutrition need prompt attention of the stakeholders and managers of 79D. O. Durosaro the system. Primary education is central to the achievement of the overall national educational goals.
The primary education managers, in their quest to continue to meet the national demand for primary education quite efficiently and effectively, must constantly device new and improved ways of managing the system. The following recommendations are put forth: There is need for the creation of more social awareness on the recent Ube Bill to ensure compliance. The various States and Local Governments should also back this up with edicts and byelaws where necessary. Various tiers of government should also formulate clear policies on enrolment of pupils, funding, provision of facilities as well as quality assurance.
There is the urgent need to set a national minimum standard for primary education which must be followed by all providers of primary education in Nigeria whether private or public. Since the government is still the major source of found to education in Nigeria, there is the need to change the pattern of funding so that provision for primary education should adequately match its needs, To be able to take sound decisions on the management of primary education in Nigeria, there is the need to ensure availability of accurate data on the system.
The present effort of the Federal Ministry of Education in collaboration with both the UNESCO and UNDP on the creation of an Education Data Bank is highly commendable (FGN/UNE SCO/UN DP, 2003). The government should give the data bank all the enabling environment required to generate and analyse and bank the data. The institutional managers and teachers should be constantly trained and retrained in the modern data management techniques. There is the need to step up the institutional capacity building. The school managers should be mandated to attend training workshops and conferences to improve their managerial skills.
Organizations like the National Institute for Educational Planning and Administration, which have been set up for capacity building in educational management, should be empowered to start some annual training programmes towards this end. Concerted efforts by ways of quality control and monitoring would improve the quality of public schools and the drift from them to private schools would be checked. Effort should also be made to promote gender balance in schools Crucial Issues in the Management of Primary Education in Nigeria80 through gender sensitivity of the teachers, curriculum and teaching materials.
The school environment should be made more child-friendly. The government needs to step up its poverty alleviation process by rendering assistance to parents indirectly through provision of free books, uniforms and even free mid-day meals to the children of the poor. There is need to embark more aggressively on the public enlightenment on the HIV/AIDS disease control. This would help reduce both pupil and teacher loss that this disease could cause. References Abdulkareem, A. Y. and I. O. Umar (1997) Follow-up Study on Primary Education Cost, Financing and Management in Kogi, Kwara and Nigeria States and the Federal Capital Territory.
National Primary Education Commission Project. Durosaro, D. O. (2000) Resource Allocation and Utilization for University Education in Nigeria, Trends and Issues in E. G. Fagbamiye and D. O. Durosaro (eds,). Education and Productivity in Nigeria, N AEAP 51-67. Federal Government of Nigeria (1997 – 2002) Annual Budgets World Bank (2003) School Education in Nigeria: Preparing for Universal Basic Education. , (Human Development II, African Region), September 1. FGN/UNESCO/UNDP (2003). A Decade of Basic Education Data in Nigeria (1988-1998).
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