An analysis of data obtained from the Central Bank of Nigeria showed that Nigerians spent at least $220.86 million on foreign education between December 2021 and February 2022.
This is according to the CBN data on the amount spent on educational service under the sectoral utilisation for transactions valid for foreign exchange for December 2021 to February 2022.
In December 2021, the apex bank stated that it spent $90.67m on foreign education.
The CBN also noted that in January 2022, a total of $60,202,730.84 was spent on foreign education, while noting that $69.9m was spent in February 2022.
Though, the bank has not updated the amount spent in March, April and May, it noted that the amount it indicated in December 2021 and January 2022 might be subject to change in future
Tertiary education in Nigeria has been marred by industrial actions by tertiary institution-based unions such as the Academic Staff Union of Universities, and the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics.
Currently, academic activities in Nigerian universities and polytechnics are grounded on issues bordering on lecturers’ welfare.
While ASUU has been on strike for close to three months, polytechnic lecturers just commenced a two-week warning strike.
The data from the apex bank revealed that Nigerians remitted more than $220m to foreign academic institutions in three months without significant reciprocity in form of inflows from foreign sources to the local education sector.
The huge net dollar outflows have dual adverse effects of underinvestment in domestic education and creating pressure on the naira exchange rate.
The high demand for dollars to pay foreign educational institutions affects Nigeria’s foreign reserves and increases pressure on the exchange rate.
The United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation observed that about 76,338 Nigerians were studying abroad as of 2018, the highest from an African country, this is as the government has consistently failed to appropriate enough funds to the nation’s education sector.
Speaking to our correspondent, the National President, Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics, Dr. Anderson Ezeibe, said the failure of the government to invest adequately in the education sector had negatively impacted the education sector.
“You go to tertiary institutions and you see dilapidated buildings, lecturers and students alike are not happy, students do not have access to good equipment for practicals, at the end of the day, the system continues to churn out half-baked graduates.
“The only solution to this is for the government to invest fully in the sector. If we operate world-class schools in the country, there will be no need for people to go to other countries to obtain good education.
Similarly, the Convener, Reform Education sector, Olubunmi olusanmi, told The PUNCH that there is an urgent need for the government to speedily increase its investment in the education sector.
“Education is the bedrock of any nation, you cannot neglect that sector and say you want to focus on infrastructure. Nigerians go to other countries to avoid some of the drama that goes on in our local schools. Talks of strikes have been annual festivals and we have all seen it as normal.
“We cannot continue to go on like this. The truth is that many individuals who have the resources or who can struggle to get the resources will continue to go out and get better quality education. The government needs to do better.”