Unionists on Wednesday urged the Federal Government to give priority to education and review the education budget from 7.04 per cent to 20 per cent.
The unionists made the plea in interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos.
They pointed out that only 20 per cent budgetary allocation would improve the standard and ensure quality of education at the basic, secondary and tertiary institutions.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) report, “Education for All, 2000 – 2015’’, had recommended between 15 to 20 per cent for all countries.
The Federal Government allocated N605.8 billion for education, which stands at 7.04 per cent of the 2018 budget.
Mr Usman Dutse, the President, Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP), said that policy somersault, poor funding, infrastructure decay and poor remuneration were major challenges confronting the sector.
Dutse said that in the last two decades, the education sector had witnessed a decline in quality and standard.
He suggested that government must show more genuine commitment to the development of Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) by investing more in the polytechnics and technical colleges.
According to him, there is nothing to celebrate in the last two decades concerning education.
“Government has continued to pay little or no attention to the sector.
“Education has not received its due attention at the primary, secondary and tertiary levels.
“We are still confronted by lack of government’s commitment, policy somersault, poor remuneration of teachers and lecturers, lack of laboratories for practicals, among many other challenges.
“We urge the government to increase the education budget in line with the UNESCO’s recommendations,’’ Dutse said.
He said that without adequate funding, the nation’s educational standard would continue to fall below standard.
“Technical and vocational education is the future of the country and can bring about the needed change in the economy but government is not funding it.
“Technical education is capital intensive. You need equipment, laboratories, and manpower to achieve the best but go to our polytechnics, they do not have all these things, ‘’ Dutse said.
He commended Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND) for providing intervention funds on research and training for lecturers as well as infrastructure developments in most tertiary institutions.
Dutse said that without TETFUND, most institutions would have been in a state of despise.
Mr Segun Raheem, the immediate past Chairman, Nigeria Union of Teachers, Lagos State Wing, said government at all levels must place premium on education.
According to him, countries like Finland, Singapore, UK and U.S. have quality education because they place premium on education and give priority to their teachers.
Raheem said that policy somersault was also a challenge to the sector, saying that the Federal Ministry of Education must have a permanent template.
“We need to redefine ourselves. As a Nigerian and an optimist, I think we will get there with more commitment.
“We need to look at what our education was like in the 1960s, 1970s and now.
“We need to look at what was our teaching/learning outcome then and what it is now.
“We need to identify what are the hindrances and how we can ameliorate them,” he said.