Problems in the Educational System
A Historical Overview
The problems facing the Niger State Educational system are immense, but are not insurmountable. It will take considerable commitment, effort and the involvement of all if the current situation is to be addressed. The problems associated with the education system at all levels can be attributed to many factors which have not been properly addressed over the years. It will therefore take time to resolve the numerous dimensions of this very complex situation in the educational system.
During the last administration, Niger states attempt to address the problems within the education system were guided by a number of policies and documents. These included:
- The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)
- National and States Education for All (EFA) Plans
- National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (NEEDS)
- Niger State Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (NSEEDS).
The main objectives of the Niger State Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (NSEEDS) was to strengthen the existing development strategies and plans by identifying priorities that would lead to growth promotion and the reduction of poverty (SESP, 2008)
However, Niger state missed the Education for All goals of achieving gender parity at primary and secondary school education levels by 2012. It also missed the achievements of the EF goal and the millennium development goals which concluded this year.
State Education Sector Plans
A 10 year State Education Sector Plan (SESP) and a shorter 3 – year State Education Sector Operational Plan (SESOP) was developed as tools by the last administration to aid the education reform on the basis of a sector-wide analysis. The main thrusts of these documents were as follows:
- Ensuring planned development of education
- Taking a long-term and holistic view of the sector
- Aligning educational development more intimately with other sectors of development
- Focusing on strategic challenge areas of educational development
- Prioritising high impact areas
- Engaging stakeholders in policy dialogues and ensuring the ownership of education development endeavours
- Channelling resources to areas of greatest need building capacity for effective and efficient service delivery.
Unfortunately, the proposed changes to the education system these plans sought to achieve were not realised.
The Niger State Education Strategic Plan (SEPS) covers the period 2009 - 2018 with the following policy objectives:
- Policy Objective 1 Improving access and expanding opportunities
- Policy Objective 2 Assuring quality and relevance of education provision
- Policy Objective 3 Improving educational planning and management
- Policy Objective 4 Assuring sustainable funding and improved financial management.
Little has been achieved in implementing these policy objectives for a number of reasons mainly attributed to the inadequate provision of financial resources.
The main problems facing the education system in Niger State are identified as follows:
- The existence of unreliable and obsolete statistic data or information on the total number of schools, teachers and pupils by age, gender and year group in the state.
- Low enrolment of children in primary and secondary schools.
- Poor and dilapidated school buildings and associated infrastructure with inadequate facilities.
- Inadequate security, including boundary walls and gates given the increased number of terrorist attacks in different parts of the country.
- Insufficient teachers to teach, especially in core subjects such as English, Mathematics and Science.
- The continued absence of teachers due to industrial strikes and / or union action.
- Low morale amongst teachers and other support staff.
- Large number of unqualified teachers in addition to the use of redundant teaching methods.
- Absence of teachers due to low morale and poor remuneration packages and incentives.
- Non-existent and poorly equipped science laboratories.
- Lack of adequate games facilities, such as football fields,
- Poor sanitation and hygiene facilities.
- Sub-standard boarding accommodation
- Poor overall performance in the national examinations.
- Large number of children out of school, especially Almajiri’s (young boys who attend Islamic schools and are usually nomadic).
- Lack of co-ordination between the various ministries, departments and agencies with responsibility towards education at the state and between the federal governments.
- Insufficient facilities for disabled children.