Nigeria’s growing population may be an indication of the availability of a market for the education sector. According to the results of the 2006 census and projections from the National Population Commission, the young and active make up majority of the country’s population. Some people may view this large active population as an indication of strength under the guise of availability of labour. However, with an overall annual growth rate of about 3.5 percent (National Population Commission), policy makers may want to consider the impact this has on the resources available to cater to this large and growing population. It is also important to consider what access this active population has to education and other means through which they can develop their skills, and whether or not they are encouraged or even willing to develop themselves…if indeed the availability or an active population equates to the availability of labour.
Given that life expectancy in the country is 53 years (World Bank), and the negative net migration rate of -0.35 (2015, Kneoma), population growth is assumed to be driven largely by net childbirth. This means that the number of children who need to be educated is going to continue to rise. Policy makers in the education sector should be very weary of this as many scenarios in Lagos State alone are beginning show symptoms of State that is struggling to cope with its growing population: for instance, the number of children begging on the streets during school hours, insufficient number of public schools, inadequately skilled teachers.
Another symptom of this dire issue is the rise of “quack” poorly equipped and low standard private schools. The availability of a market for private education becomes apparent because of the failure of public sector schools to keep up pace with the monumental development in the education sector locally and globally. Parents are therefore left with few options for quality education and if they can afford to, the more attractive option would be private schools. What is highly concerning about this is the fact that despite the rise in the number of private schools in the State, not many of them meet up to local or international standards. Those which do may charge school fees that are not affordable or sustainable for the average Nigerian man.
Quality education now appears to have become a luxurious commodity only accessible to the rich, and might not even be viewed as an essential item when analysing disposable income in the light of the current economic climate in the country. Recent trends in consumer spending and disposable income show a sharp reduction in 2016 and slow growth in 2017 (Business Monitor International). So household spending may be predicted to grow steadily over the next 3 years on the back of an improving economic outlook: inflation expected to decrease, thereby reducing the pressure on household budgets; and oil prices expected to continue to increase.
Given this, there might be some hope that education may become more affordable. However, the concept of access to quality education being perceived now more as a luxury than a necessity needs to be taken into serious consideration in order to ensure that the growing population in Lagos State and the country could indeed be its strength.
Tags: National Population Commission