Education International
Education International

Nigeria: mass protest to save public education

published 20 August 2013 updated 28 August 2013

On 13 August, the Joint Action Front (JAF) led a national mass protest to save public education in Nigeria. EI’s national affiliate, the National Union of Teachers (NUT), is a JAF member.

The central slogan of the protest in Lagos was “Education is a right.” The main demand was for the Federal and State Governments to implement agreements signed with NUT and other education organisations.

The Government’s failure to implement these agreements and to facilitate adequate funding of education at all levels has led to the closure of many schools, universities, and other education institutions.

Regional protests

Students at the protest also called for the cancellation of fees as well as independent student unionism on campuses. They also called for education to be funded adequately, up to the UNESCO recommendation of 26 per cent budgetary allocation.

Similar protests and rallies are to follow in Ibadan, Kano, Calabar, Owerri, and Abuja in the coming weeks. These rallies will culminate in an unavoidable nationwide mass protest if the Government does not act.

In a JAF declaration issued on 6 August calling for the mass protest, JAF leaders explain that Nigerian teachers and non-teaching staff are the poorest paid in the world - education is poorly funded in Nigeria at less than eight per cent of public expenditure, with South Africa’s funding at about 38 per cent.

Infrastructure and facilities must be funded

“The NUT has been on a number of strikes since 2009 because the Government failed to implement the teachers’ special scale that was a product of agreements with the Government in 1992,” the declaration says.

“Central to saving public education is our insistence that governments in Nigeria must fund education in line with the international standard of 26 per cent and make education tuition-free at all levels,” the statement goes on. “Funding education adequately means the repair and building of new infrastructure (classrooms with audio-visuals, furniture, hostels, electricity, water, etc.) in primary, secondary and tertiary institutions (universities, polytechnics, colleges of education, etc.) and the provisions of up-to-date facilities (laboratory, books, hostels, teaching aids, etc.).”

The statement underlines that saving public education at tertiary level means autonomy and academic freedom in education institutions’ administration and running.

“The only option for the poor majority of Nigerians is that public education must be adequately funded,” highlights the document. “The only future for Nigerian students is public education.”

The declaration further says that there is no future for Nigeria’s development, and there is no way out of the recurring crises of general insecurity and underdevelopment in the country, without adequate funding and compulsory access to education by all Nigerians in line with standard requirements, and school environments encouraging learning and social development.

EI: Government must guarantee free quality public education

“Educators worldwide fully support our Nigerian colleagues’ struggle to ensure quality public education for all in their country,” EI General Secretary Fred van Leeuwen said. “We urge the Nigerian Federal and State governments to take up their responsibility to guarantee free quality public education and adequately fund education.”