After School Graduate Development Centre (AGDC)
The Challenge of Equity in the Post-Primary Education System in Edo State
Held At The Sage Hotel, GRA Benin, June 16, 2011
The educational system in Nigeria is on a geometric failure deficit; with increasing rates of youth unemployment; the existence of an equitable educational system in every state is non-negotiable. An “equitable” system provides high quality education to all pupils regardless of background or where they live. This report details findings from the evaluation of rural post secondary education in 10 Local Government and 14 communities in Edo-State, and establishes the existence of inequity in provisions for schools in urban and rural communities in Edo-State. Universally accepted measurements comprising of Pupil –Teacher Ratio (PTR), budgetary allocation and funding, as well infrastructure were used in this study.
Edo State is situated in Southern Nigeria within the Niger Delta Region; it is divided into 18 Local Government Areas. The state’s 2011 budget is 105,944 Billion Naira. Funded by TY Danjuma Foundation, the W.I.N.G.S Community Projects are 14 community projects implemented by undergraduates of the University of Benin whom were beneficiaries of the W.I.N.G.S 3 Week employability and enterprise training implemented by AGDC, i.e. the After School Graduate Development Centre, located in Lagos, Nigeria. This report is based on the findings of AGDC’s Monitoring and Evaluation team for the W.I.N.G.S Community Projects.
Pupil –Teacher Ratio (PTR): For all rural community secondary schools, the largest teacher population for a single school was 6. These 6 teachers are expected to teach the 15 subjects curriculum for senior secondary schools in the state. Majority of schools visited had 3 or 2 teachers and these numbers includes the School Principal and Vice-Principal. The lowest ratio of teacher to pupil ratio was found in Ovia South East LGA with a median range of 168 Students per Teacher. Placing this against the universal benchmark of 40 pupils per teacher for developing countries (World Conference on Education, 1990), rural secondary schools in Edo-State are grossly understaffed. There seems to be a different administration for schools located in the city –centre as the average PTR is between 40-80 pupils per teacher. School administrators in the rural communities attribute the discrepancies between PTR of Rural and Urban secondary schools to 2 factors:
• Non deployment of teachers to the hinterlands by the Post-Primary Education Board
• Refusal of deployed teachers to report at their schools of posting
Thus, rural secondary schools not only suffer from discrimination from the administrative government body, but also from teachers who refuse to report to rural community secondary schools. Furthermore, it was discovered that teachers lecturing students in core subjects such as English, Mathematics, Biology and Economics are often reposted to schools located in the city centre.
Rural community secondary schools in Edo State are populated by staff members made up of National Youth Corps members. These Youth Corpers make up the core teaching staff in all schools; a Youth Corp member interviewed in Igueben LGA asserts “We are the teaching staff”. The schools’ Parents Teacher Association (PTA) for each school pays the remuneration for these Corpers.
Funding: Against the backdrop of 105,944 Billion Naira, 2011 Edo State budget; the average monthly subvention for senior secondary schools is 5.000 Naira. With an average population of 250 pupils for rural secondary, the Edo State government provides 20 Naira to fund a secondary school student per month. 20 Naira is the equivalent of ¼ of the cost of a bottle of soft drink, 4000% of the cost of a rubber school sandal and 200% of the cost of a Higher School Note-Book. It was reported that charging students extra fees is strictly prohibited in the state, but the question is; how does the Edo State government expects rural community schools to thrive with a monthly subvention of 5000 Naira? Which according to all schools visited was last paid in April 2011
Evaluation and Promotion of Students: The challenge of funding impedes proper evaluation of students for promotional examinations. According to one of the School Principals interviewed, the school have to consider 3 major factors;
• The ministry of education calculate the subvention provided for each school monthly by the number of paying students and not the actual students’ population; hence the school cannot afford to fail a paying student as it reduces the monthly subvention of the school. Hence, to ensure that the school stay afloat, the school administration is constrained to promote students en-masse.
• The presence of several private secondary school institutions in the community implies that the students if asked to repeat a class will most surely withdraw their studentship and enrol in a private secondary school, again leading to a reduction in the monthly subvention from the State’s Ministry of Education.
• Students pay tuition per term and due to dearth of funds, the school take in students at any term they can afford to pay for. It means that a young woman who have registered at the beginning of the school year but could only pay and attend classes in the 3rd term will automatically be promoted to the next class. The absence of proper evaluation and the high rate of examination malpractice at the WAEC and JAMB examination centres ensures that this young woman enters the university and at least in the next 4 years convocates as an unemployable graduate.
Infrastructure: All schools visited had dilapidated structures capable of collapsing under the most minimal of pressures. There were several cases of collapsed roofs, walls, absent windows and the most prominent; absence of desks and chairs. A unique phenomenon was the indication of desks and chairs as the most needed items reported by ALL schools visited. The students opined that “at least we can sit down and write, even under trees’. A school visited in Ovia North East LGA, JSS 2 students had to vacate their classes to the fields to enable JSS 3 students write the national Junior Secondary School Examinations. While the State Government is presently undertaking a renovation projects for secondary school in the state, we observed that two types of schools are being renovated; Schools located in local government areas in the city centre or along major roads in outlying communities. What are the criteria for selection of schools for renovation? This report make bold to assert that schools in the rural hinterlands are in worse states than schools in the city centre, and we could not find single one being renovated in all local governments visited.
Gender Proportion of Teaching Staff: An unconfirmed figure of about 4500 senior secondary school teacher population exists in Edo State, majority of who are reported to be women teachers. Given the need to urgently address the importance of educating the girl child in Edo State, efforts are needed to ensure that women teachers are not overly concentrated in the city centre to the detriment of rural girls whose access to education depends on them.
1. AGDC calls on the Edo State government to increase monthly subventions for schools in the state, in particular rural secondary schools. While we commend the state governor in implementing the new minimum wage figures, it is important to fund the institutions that train the labour force of the future, ie Secondary schools
2. The Protocol of Recruitment of Commonwealth Teachers adopted by Ministers of Education from common wealth countries explicitly advocate and recognizes the benefits of a well managed teacher exchange system. AGDC calls for an immediate end to arbitrary rural to urban reposting of teachers and also request that more teachers be posted to rural areas with additional incentives
3. AGDC further calls for recruitment of more teachers in Edo State and provide further trainings for current teachers in the rural areas, majority of who reported being sidelined in training programs in favour of teachers in the city centre.
4. AGDC calls on international and national funders to fund further research and intervention projects to investigate and address the inequalities in rural and urban education in Edo State and Nigeria as a whole
5. AGDC calls on NGOs, CBOs, private institutions and government agencies to become proactive in addressing the challenge in provisions for rural and urban education in Edo State and Nigeria.
MEMBERS OF THE MONITORING AND EVALUATION TEAM
Otubure Emmanuel Godbless
Audu Oguns Clement
Nweke McDuke. C
Osaghae Aigbe David