Cablegate: Nigerian Expert: When Only 6 Out of 100 Kids Complete Grade
RR RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHOS #0096/01 0730911
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 130911Z MAR 08
FM AMCONSUL LAGOS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9803
INFO RUEHUJA/AMEMBASSY ABUJA 9529
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC
RHMCSUU/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHINGTON DC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 LAGOS 000096
STATE FOR AF/W
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EFIN SOCI NI
SUBJECT: Nigerian Expert: When Only 6 Out of 100 Kids Complete Grade
School, Private Education Must Play Role
1. (U) Summary: With only 6 out of 100 children completing primary
school, Dr. Doyin Salami, a respected economist and faculty member
at the prestigious Lagos Business School, believes the Government of
Nigeria (GON) must change its model for delivering education to a
public-private partnership. Under the new model, the Federal
Government (FG) would establish curriculum, state governments would
regulate physical plant, and private for-profit or non-profit
entities deliver the educational services. End Summary
2. (U) Econoffs met March 3 with Dr. Doyin Salami, a respected
economist and faculty member at the prestigious Lagos Business
School. With macroeconomic stability well in hand, Dr. Salami said,
it is time for the government to turn its attention to
micro-economic elements. Education is currently the single biggest
challenge facing the current administration in Nigeria, and a key
reason for Nigeria's massive unemployment problem, he said.
Nigeria's Unemployed Are Unemployable
3. (U) Nigeria's unemployed are in fact unemployable by virtue of
their lack of an adequate education, Dr. Salami said. A 2006 survey
done in Lagos State by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS)
illustrates the magnitude of the problem. The survey showed that
out of every 100 children, 67 do not start primary school, and of
the 33 that do start, only six finish. From this, Dr. Salami says,
one can infer that not all six will make it through high school or
go on to university. Because 40 percent of Nigeria's 140 million
population is below the age of 15 years, the problem is enormous,
Dr. Salami said. Most of the children who are not in school are
working as street vendors or in markets, he said.
Educating Nigeria Not
Solely a GON Responsibility
4. (U) In light of the failures of the public education model
illustrated by the 2006 survey, there is a need to change the model.
Dr. Salami believes that the business of educating Nigeria can no
longer be left to the public sector. Had the former Minister of
Education (now World Bank Vice President) stayed in her job,
changing public school education might have been possible, but Dr.
Salami believes that, in her absence, the political will is lacking
to carry out the reforms needed. Moreover, he said, education is
currently entirely dependent on the budget, and there is not enough
money being provided.
5. (U) Therefore, Dr. Salami is advocating adoption of a
public-private partnership model for the education sector. The
model Salami believes is most likely to succeed is one in which the
Federal Government of Nigeria (GON) plays a strong regulatory role,
but the private sector actually carries out the activities related
GON to Assume Purely Regulatory Role
6. (U) Under the model Dr. Salami envisages, the Federal
Government's (FG) role would be to develop a basic school curriculum
that would be required in all states with some variances permitted
to accommodate important cultural and regional values, including
religious values. State governments would regulate the type and
quality of the infrastructure, including school buildings, he said.
The schools themselves, Dr. Salami said, would be run by private
for-profit or non-profit entities. These entities would operate the
schools, recruit teachers and maintain the infrastructure to ensure
standard and quality, Salami advised.
7. (U) The new model would help to professionalize the teacher
corps, he said. Teaching is now the profession of last resort, he
said; families do not send their brightest children into education.
The new model would change that by assuring that teachers are well
compensated. In addition to attracting higher quality personnel,
adequate compensation would go a long way toward forestalling the
resistance of the teachers' unions toward privatizing the
administration of the public schools, he predicted.
8. (U) A debate on the important issue of education needs to be
ignited within Nigeria, he said. Dr. Salami sees as a key argument
in the debate that the GON does not have the resources with which to
provide adequate education for all children, and therefore must
assure that the resources it does have are well spent. He
anticipates that the regulatory role envisaged for the Ministry of
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Education, which would necessitate the laying off of many redundant
civil servants, would also be a focal point of the debate.
9. (SBU) Comment: Dr. Salami, an influential economist with the
prestigious Lagos Business School, is actively advocating that the
GON adopt this policy approach to education.
10. (U) This cable was cleared by Embassy Abuja.