By Alexander Chiejina
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Even though basic education in Nigeria is both free and required by law, 10.5 million children between the ages of 5 and 14 are not enrolled. Only 35.6 percent of kids between the ages of 36 and 59 months receive early childhood education, while only 61 percent of kids between the ages of 6 and 11 routinely attend primary school, according to the most recent data collected by the United Nations Children Education Fund (UNICEF).
Infrastructure has deteriorated due to years of ongoing underfunding for education, and teaching standards and quality, particularly in government-owned schools, continue to be inadequate. Parents have long tried to close learning gaps by hiring after-school tutors, sometimes known locally as “lesson teachers,” because they are aware of the flaws of the national education system and the low teacher-to-pupil ratio in secondary schools.
Education has always been a huge business offline in Nigeria due to the country’s long-standing problems in the area, from elite private schools and pricey tutors to more inexpensive options that are only slightly better than public institutions.
Budgetary allocation for Education (2016 – 2023)
More concerning is the fact that Nigeria’s contribution to the education sector has long fallen below the threshold that is advised for emerging countries. According to Zainab Ahmed, minister of finance, budget and national planning, the sector received N1.79 trillion in the 2023 budget, or 8.2 percent of the appropriation bill.
A quick glance at the present administration’s educational spending reveals that in 2016, the National Assembly approved a budget totaling N6.06 trillion, with N480.28 billion (or around 7.9 percent of the total amount budgeted for the year) going to the education sector. In 2017, the sector received N448.44 billion, or roughly 6.1 percent of the N7.30 trillion in total budgets for the year. The approved budget for the year increased to N9.2 trillion in 2018, of which the education sector received N651.23 billion, or nearly 7.1 percent of the total.
The National Assembly received estimates of N8.83 trillion from President Muhammadu Buhari as the 2019 budget. N745.53 billion, or around 8.4 percent of the overall budget, went to the education sector. The sector received N686.82 billion in total in 2020, or about 6.5 percent of the overall allocated budget for the year.
The allocation for the education sector for 2021 was N742.52 billion, or around 5.6 percent of the total budget for the year. This is the lowest budget the sector has ever gotten when compared to other budgets given to the sector in the past. N923.79 billion of the N17.13 trillion (2022) budget was allotted to the industry. Despite the rise, the budget still represents 5.4 percent of the overall budget approved by the National Assembly.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisations (UNESCO) recommends that developing countries devote up to 15-20 percent of their annual budget to public education. Nigeria’s budget allocation to the educational sector from 2016 to 2023 falls short of this recommendation. Sadly, Nigeria has not been providing enough funding for the education sector relative to the UNESCO criteria.
Edtechs to the rescue
Nigeria, home to more than 200 million people, has a considerable demand for education. The disparity between the number of students and the constrained resources available to schools and colleges has been reduced thanks to technology. The nation’s population is sizable and young, its economy is growing quickly, and the desire for technological solutions to its numerous problems is rising.
Startups in the education ecosystem have been established during the past ten years by digital entrepreneurs and innovators, bridging access to education.
Sim Shagaya, the creator of Konga, an e-commerce platform, founded uLesson in 2019. It offers secondary school pupils interactive video lectures and tests on a variety of topics, including maths, physics, chemistry, and biology.
The generated material is pertinent to and helpful to Nigerian pupils because it is in line with the curriculum.
There is a mobile app for the uLesson platform that can be downloaded from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store. Students in places with poor internet connectivity can access the content thanks to the app’s offline access feature. Additionally, the app provides many subscription options, from daily to annual subscriptions, making it cheap for kids from all socioeconomic situations.
The use of gamification by uLesson to engage students and make learning more enjoyable is one of its standout characteristics. The website offers incentives for passing tests and classes that can be redeemed for access to more features and material.
Since its debut, uLesson has gotten a lot of money from investors, including TLcom Capital, one of the top African venture capital firms. In order to make its content available to students, the firm has also worked with schools and other educational institutions around Nigeria.
An educational technology startup called Prepclass employs technology to make learning accessible, interactive, and interesting for all types of students. As an educational technology company, its main objective is to gather qualified tutors and match them with students who require academic assistance or customised learning plans designed to help the students meet their objectives.
Prepclass Academy aids students in getting ready for exams and standardised tests with its three physical learning facilities in Lagos, Nigeria.
For tests like the IELTS, GMAT, GRE, SAT, TOEFL, and others, students can easily go into any of our centres. A portal called Prepclass Tutor Market Place makes it simple for students to employ the help of a home tutor. Learners can quickly seek tutoring services from its database of more than 50,000 tutors, which has been dubbed the Uber for tutoring in Africa.
Prepclass has made investments in a number of programmes that enhance the lives of tutors and the outcomes for learners because of its extensive reach of tutors and students. Among the projects it has worked on include tutor placement and training in other countries, free coding programmes for teenagers, free language classes for adults, etc.
The goal of AltSchool Africa, which was established in 2016 as a division of the US-based edtech business AltSchool and co-founded by former Google executive Max Ventilla, is to offer education to children in Africa while utilising technology to create a unique learning environment. The business has created a unique learning management system (LMS) that tracks student progress and offers individualised learning recommendations using data analytics and machine learning algorithms.
On a number of platforms, including smartphones, tablets, and computers, the AltSchool Africa platform offers a range of educational tools, including interactive video lectures, tests, and games. Along with real-time peer and instructor interaction, the platform provides access to a network of educators and subject matter experts in the form of virtual classrooms.
Investors such as Omidyar Network, a renowned charitable investment company, and Learn Capital, a venture capital firm specialising in education technology, have generously funded AltSchool Africa.
In Nigeria, the business has also cooperated with a number of educational institutions and schools.
Honey Ogundeyi founded Edukoya in 2021 with the goal of creating the biggest online learning community for Africans by lowering costs and increasing accessibility of top-notch educational resources. In essence, it seeks to reimagine education for African kids in the era of mobile technology.
The edtech solution is a round-the-clock, all-in-one learning platform that links students to qualified educators for private online lessons. Edukoya creates educational internet resources and provides online tutoring for both students and their parents.