Stakeholders Advocate Special Funding, Tax Cut for Education
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
The need to provide a special funding package for the education sector in Nigeria has been emphasised by stakeholders. Also, they want more involvement of the private sector so as to improve the quality of education in the country.
At the Ecobank Digital Series titled Education in Nigeria – The role of private investment, participants further stated that the government should give tax concession and import duty waivers for educational equipment in the face of the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In his presentation, Professor Olabode Ayorinde, the Pro-Chancellor Achievers University, stressed the need for government at all levels to place high priority on the education sector when providing intervention funds, urging commercial banks to also lend more to this sector at low interest rate.
According to him, “The private sector has played a significant role in education development. However, funding has been a major issue.
“A critical analysis shows inadequate infrastructure, lack of equipment and teaching aids, high teacher to student ratio, all of which requires a loan facility to solve.
“Regrettably, we see the government and its agencies providing intervention funds to the aviation sector, agriculture and the creative sector without considering the education sector.”
On his part, Dr Suleiman Ramon-Yusuf of the National Universities Commission (NUC) attributed the poor state of the nation’s economy to the inability of the private sector in making the right impact on the education sector, noting that endowments, scholarships and bursaries would create access for schools to admit more students.
He disclosed that the NUC will continue to provide an enabling environment for education and learning to thrive in the country, urging the private sector to invest more in human capital development, while limiting undue interference from the investors.
Also, the Director-General of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Dr Muda Yusuf, called for government’s intervention in the education sector, especially at the foundation level, maintaining that it was not easy to sustain the education sector with loans from the commercial banks because of high interest rates.
He canvassed for tax concession for private investments in education, adding that “Licensing for private universities should be made easy to enable inclusiveness and a model that will include scholarships and bursary should be enacted.”
In her contribution, Mrs Folashade Adefisayo, the Commissioner for Education in Lagos State, said there are more private schools in the state than public schools and most of them may not survive the gruelling effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to her, “Land and access is the main hindrance to building of more schools in Lagos State. Currently, the government is working on synergy between the public and private sectors, reviewing and optimising the school curriculum, improving the quality of primary education, investing in teaching aids for schools and much more.”
Towing the same line Prof. Badamasi Lawal, Commissioner for Education, Katsina State, posited that “Initiatives for teachers development, public and private sector partnership, better and favourable legislation, corporate social responsibility like scholarship, bursary and tax concession would go a long way in providing the enabling environment for education sector to thrive in the country.”
On her part, the Segment Head, Public Sector at Ecobank Nigeria, Mrs Annabel Ikuenobe, stated the readiness of the bank to keep supporting the growth of the education sector in the country.
She enumerated the bank’s several products and initiatives available for Ecobank customers, saying “one of our products to serve the education sector is the Ecobank School Bundle.
“The bundle comprises a current account, which runs at a zero maintenance fee. We also have in place digital banking services, which include PoS, corporate card and Omnilite for easy disbursement of funds; E-billspay, to support collections and administration of the school portal, which promotes remote learning for students, receipt generation and the school’s communication management. Loans are also available for Ecobank customers.”