Some Nigerian students and lecturers in the U.S. have called on individuals and governments at different levels to allocate more funds to the country’s education sector to enable it to impact positively on the citizens.
They made the call when they spoke with a correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), on the sideline of the Foreign Press Centre International Reporting Tour of the U.S. Community Colleges and Workforce Development Programme in Washington D.C., U.S.
The programme was organised by the Foreign Press Centre, Bureau of Public Affairs, U.S. Department of State, to provide foreign journalists with information on opportunities available to foreign students in community colleges in the U.S.
Prof. Khadijat Rashid, Dean School of Education, Business, and Human Services Gallaudet University, Washington said there was the need for the government to increase investment in education in Nigeria.
Rashid, a hearing impaired don and an expert in sign language spoke with NAN through an interpreter as well as via e-mail.
“The Nigerian government needs to invest more in education, no question about it.
“Education is already one of the largest expenditure items in the budget, but more needs to be done especially at the primary and secondary levels.
“So, I was happy to see that in the recent budget, Universal Basic Education got a boost.
“I hope the government will continue to increase funds toward that so that all Nigerians are guaranteed at least 12 years of education within the next decade.
“This needs to also include people with disabilities; funding for schools for the deaf, blind, and other disabilities should be assured so that people with disabilities can also become productive and gainful, tax-paying members of society,” she said.
The Vice President of Student Affairs, Santa Fe College, Gainesville, Florida, Dr Bea Awoniyi, said government and individuals need to do more in developing education in Nigeria.
“Nigerian government is doing a lot but not enough. I don’t think we put enough emphasis on the equipment and what the students need; emphasis should be on the library and other infrastructure.
“Community members invest in infrastructure development of a college in the U.S.; they could donate buildings, laboratories, libraries or other infrastructures,” she said.
According to her, people who have the means in the U.S., value education, and they invest in it for the development of their communities.
“I don’t think we are there yet in Nigeria, I think we really need to get to a stage where we can donate to make things happen.
“If we get to a school and we see that they don’t have enough infrastructure, individuals can donate to enhance the educational development,” she said.
According to her, there is room for improvement because the Nigerian education system can grow to be like that of the U.S.
She said that education was very important, noting that Nigerian parents were willing to pay any amount to get an education for their children.
“If they are ready to do that then let the government capitalise on that and provide quality education for the people,” she said
A Nigerian student in Valencia College Orlando Florida, Miss Anuoluwapo Jahara, also called for more investment in education by both government and individuals.
“The first thing that I will say is that the youth are the leaders of tomorrow and that leaders should know the importance of investing in the youth for the development of the country.
“Nigeria is a rich country, we have people that are rich that can move the country forward and could be of help to assist in education development especially in building and infrastructure
“The government and individuals should invest in school’s facilities to give quality education to the youth because we are the ones to take over the country once they are retired,” she said.
Prince Ulame Erese, another Nigerian student at Santa Fe College, Gainesville, Florida agreed that there was the need for the government to increase budget allocation to the education sector.
According to him, development of education will facilitate the acceleration of economic growth of the country.
“Education is an engine room for economic growth and development of a nation.
“We have a long way to go but we need the right set of people to make our education sector what it is supposed to be.
“We need to make sure that our certificate is earned and not just obtained; people have to be made to work to get the certificate.
“For me, we don’t need to put money in sectors that are not very paramount and we need to get people that will utilise the fund that is allocated to education judiciously,” he said.