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The research centres on “the assessment of free and compulsory education policy in Nigeria a study of Ebonyi State Universal Basic Education Scheme. The broad objective is to assess the performance of free and compulsory education in Ebonyi State. The specific objectives are to identify the challenges militating against the implementation of free and compulsory education in Ebonyi State, to ascertain the reasons why there are pockets of school drop outs in Ebonyi State inspite of the ongoing free and compulsory education policy in the state and to evaluate the measures that are put in place by the government to ensure that all Ebonyi children are carried along in the free and compulsory education policy. Survey design was used and data were collected using the instrumentation of questionnaire and were analyzed by table, mean and pearson correlation coefficient. Hypotheses were formulated to guide the study. The study adopted system theory as the theoretical framework of analysis. The study came up with findings and recommendations: (a) Lack of teachers’ motivation is militating against the actualization of the goals of the Universal Basic education policy in Nigeria and in Ebonyi State in particular. (b) Child labour remains the major reason why there are pockets of drop outs of students and pupils in Ebonyi State inspite of the free education policy. (c) There are lack of effective mechanism put in place to ensure the appropriate appraisal, monitoring and evaluation of the UBE policy in the country especially, in Ebonyi State. (d) Policy inconsistency negate the sustainability of the UBE programme. Recommendations (1) In as much as Nigeria wants to eradicate illiteracy in the country come 2015 according to the MDGs target, government should demonstrate a strong political will to carry out this policy option otherwise, reverse will be the case. (2) As a matter of urgent national issue all hands must be on desks in order to wipe out this national cankerworm (illiteracy) by all and sundry. (3) Teachers salaries should be reviewed up wardly and adequate extra-compensatory measures put in place that conform to the present economic realities of time and so on.
1.1 Background to the Study
It was a beginning of a new dawn in 1999 when the then democratically elected Governor of Ebonyi State of Nigeria, Dr. Sam. Egwu declared his intention to introduce the free and compulsory education in Ebonyi State. This development was born in his mind because of the state’s backwardness in Education in the country. Before now, Ebonyi State was listed in the country as one of the educationally disadvantaged state in Nigeria.
Thereafter, the federal government followed suit in the crusade against illiteracy. The federal government led by General Olusegun Obasanjo in 2003 adopted similar approach towards revitalizing the education sector. The federal government introduced Universal Basic Education Policy (UBE) and mandated every state in the federation to set up state Universal Basic Education Boards to oversee the smooth implementation of this policy option in education.
Education is the bedrock of any nation and every individual. Any nation with large number of educated people is indeed a wealthy nation and any individual who is educated is an asset to the state and by extension, to the nation. Going by this development and in line with current trends in global education system which has assumed super flow dimension, it becomes imperative that Nigeria should buy the idea of educational development that is globally acceptable and nationally essential to the peculiarities of the needs of the people.
The policy witnessed a large turn up of primary and post primary school enrollment and as such increased the literacy level in the country. The Universal Basic Education Boards in every states of the federation is working hard towards ensuring that the policy gets required amount of funds and technical assistance it needs for optimal performance and effectiveness. The policy requires equally, that each state should give out counterpart funds in order to access the federal government subventions of the policy.
Most importantly, the eradication of illiteracy in the globe is one of the objectives of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which Nigeria is a co-signatory. The millennium Development Goals will be evaluated in the year 2015 and every aspects of the goals will be critically evaluated. This may be one of the reasons why government both national and states have become restless in the fight against illiteracy and ignorance.
Governments have continued to invest heavily in education through budgetary provisions and grants from donor agencies all over the world. The percentages of national budget in education are above average when compared with other sectors of national economy.
In Ebonyi State, the story is the same. The government has continued to invest heavily in education of its citizens. Both the past and present administration have been doing justice to the free and compulsory education policy. The policy has continued to receive government subvention to sustain its operationability and optimality. What remains now is the assessment of the free and compulsory education in Nigeria and Ebonyi State in particulars with reference to the State Universal Basic Education Board which is the instrument for policy implementation of the programme.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Despite the huge amount of funds, subventions and grants towards the actualization of the programme of free Education in Nigeria and in Ebonyi State in particular, there seem to be pockets of large number of drop outs and illiterate citizen scattered all over the states of the federation.
In addition to this ugly development, some states alleged that they have not accessed the funds for the implementation of this programme even when they have committed their counterpart funds as it is required.
Furthermore, the performances of student of Ebonyi State secondary schools in particular and Nigeria in general in external Examinations like west African Examinations Council (WAEC), National Examinations Council (NECO) and joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) are not encouraging in the last few years.
Consequently, this has given negative image to the national education globally. This has equally resulted in the situation where by foreign countries look down on Nigerian Education’s certification which makes Nigerian students to look inferior in the country of global studentship.
One wonders therefore, what could be problems that militate against the smooth and effective implementation of this policy in our education sector. It is in line with the foregoing that it becomes imperative for us to conduct a brief research on the assessment of the free education policy in Ebonyi State.
1.3 Research Questions
The following research questions will guide us in this research.
1. What are the challenges militating against the implementation of free and compulsory education in Ebonyi State?
2. Why is it that there are still pockets of dropouts of students in Ebonyi state inspite of the ongoing Free and Compulsory Education in the state?
3. How effective are the measures put in place to ensure the sustainability of the UBE programme in Ebonyi State?
1.4 Objectives of the Study
The broad objective of this study is to assess the performance of free compulsory education in Ebonyi State.
However, the specific objectives shall be:
1. To identify the challenges militating against the implementation of free and compulsory education in Ebonyi State.
2. To ascertain the reasons why there are pockets of school drop outs in Ebonyi State inspite of the ongoing free and compulsory education on Ebonyi State.
3. To evaluate the measures that are put in place by the government to ensure that all Ebonyi children are carried along in the free and compulsory Education policy.
1.5 Research Hypotheses
The following hypotheses shall guide this study.
Ha1: Policy inconsistency is the major challenge militating against the implementation of free and compulsory education in Ebonyi State.
Ho1: Policy inconsistency is not the major challenge militating against the implementation of free and compulsory education in Ebonyi State.
Ha2: Inadequate sustainable sensitization and advocacy of the UBE programme to the people living in the remotest parts of the Ebonyi State is the reason why there are pockets of dropouts of students inspite of the ongoing free and compulsory education in Ebonyi State.
Ho2: Inadequate sustainable sensitization and advocacy of the programme to the people living in the remotest parts of the state is not the reason why there are pockets dropouts students inspite of the ongoing free and compulsory education in Ebonyi.
Ha3: The measures put in place by the government to ensure the sustainability of the programme in Ebonyi State are effective.
Ho3: The measures put in place by the government to ensure the sustainability of the porgramme in Ebonyi State are not effective.
1.6 Significance of the Study
The research will help in many ways both to the research and to the education sector in Ebonyi State. This can be done when the government will adopt some of the recommendations and findings of this study that will help in sustaining free Education policy in Ebonyi State.
Secondly, the research serves as a partial fulfillment for the award of post graduate diploma in public Administration.
Again, it gives the researcher an ample opportunity to contribute to knowledge.
1.7 Scope of the Study
The study has its scope in Ebonyi State with a particular reference to Ebonyi State universal education Board to make the study manageable and purposeful.
1.8 Limitations of the Study
In very research, there is bound to be limitations that a researcher will meet. In this study, the researcher acknowledges that constraints like; uncooperative attitudes by some respondents, difficulty in accessing data from Ebonyi State Universal basic Education Board and other challenges that may untold in the course of this research. However, these limitations will be handled in a manner that they will not negatively affect the outcome of this study.
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