Corruption ravaging Nigeria’s education sector is behind the squalid state of affairs in the country, President Muhammad Buhari said at the fourth National Summit on Diminishing Corruption in the Public Sector in Abuja Tuesday.
He said his administration had committed much towards curbing corruption aimed at having robust anti-corruption policies, mechanisms and practices to ensure transparency in the management of public finances and procurement.
According to him, “Incessant strikes, especially by unions in the tertiary education often imply that government is grossly underfunding education. Corruption in the education system from basic level to the tertiary level has been undermining our investment in the sector, and those who go on prolonged strikes on flimsy reasons are no less complicit.
“The 1999 Constitution places a premium on education by placing it on the Concurrent List, thereby laying the responsibilities of budgeting and underwriting qualitative education on both the federal and state governments.
“The allocation to education in the federal budget should not be considered via allocation to the Federal Ministry of Education and also academic institutions alone, but should include allocation to the Universal Basic Education, transfers to TETFUND and refund from the Education Tax Pool Account to TETFUND.
“In line with the National Policy on Education, this administration has been implementing the Home-Grown School Feeding Programme to provide a free balanced meal per day for each child that attends public primary school in order to encourage school enrolment and facilitate access to universal basic education.”
He said security challenges on Nigerian schools prompted his signing of the Safe Schools Declaration ratification document in December 2019.
In his words, “The Safe Schools Initiative is an expression of the government’s commitment to continue to work towards the protection of students, teachers and the school environments.
“Government and stakeholders in the educational sector are concerned about the manifestation of various forms of corruption in the education sector. I am aware that students in our universities, for example, use different terminologies to describe different forms of corruption they experience on our campuses.
“There is sorting or cash for marks/grades, sex for marks, sex for grade alterations, examination malpractice, and so on.
“Sexual harassment has assumed an alarming proportion. Other forms of corruption include pay-roll padding or ghost workers, lecturers taking up full time appointments in more than one academic institution, including private institutions, lecturers writing seminar papers, projects and dissertations for students for a fee, and admission racketeering, to mention only the most glaring corrupt practices.
“Corruption in the expenditure of internally generated revenue of tertiary institutions is a matter that has strangely not received the attention of stakeholders in tertiary education, including unions.”