The National Policy on Education of Nigeria (1977) states that the government shall take various measures to provide universal basic education for all citizens, depending on needs and possibilities (Section 1, Art.9). Basic education is free and compulsory and it comprises 6 years of primary education and 3 years of junior secondary education (age 6 to 14), and free provision includes adult and NFE programmes for adults and out-of-school youth (Section 3, Art.15).
The National Policy on Education estates that financing of education is a joint responsibility of the federal, state and local governments and the private sector (Section 13, Art. 121). Public expenditure in education in 2013 was NGN 1680.3 billion (US $ 4.35 billion), corresponding to 12.5% of total public expenditure and 1.7% of GDP: 35% by the Local Government Authority, 25% by States, 18% by the Federal government and 5% by UBEC. The school-aged children population is 65.5 million students (5.9 million in pre-primary, 32.8 million in primary and 27 million in secondary) and 15.9 are in tertiary education.
However, the single largest source of education funding are households. The breakdown of the education sector finance is: federal government (18%), state government (13 %), local government agencies (25%), household out-of-pocket payment (40%), UBEC initiative (3%), and donors: the remaining 0.4%.
The high household out of pocket spending reflects that, according to the 2015 Nigeria Education Data Survey (NEDS), 33% of primary schools and 29% of junior secondary schools in Nigeria are private. No information was found on mechanisms to subsidize private education. However, information was collected on the privatization of basic education phenomenon in Nigeria, specially through Low-fee private schools (LFPSs), that can reach up to 57% of total schools in Lagos State, for instance. In total, Households’ expenditure in education in 2010 represented 2% of total household expenditure, corresponding to US $ 1484 million out of US $ 74607 million for a total 34.8 million households.
The Nigerian education system is decentralized under a federal structure. Public education is the simultaneous responsibility of the federal, state, local governments, and private sector. At the Federal level, the Federal Ministry of Education (FME), through the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC, 2004) disburses federal intervention funds for pre-primary, primary and junior secondary education and the monitoring of standards in the basic education sector. At the State level, basic education is managed by the State Ministries of Education (SMoEs) and State Universal Basic Education Boards (SUBEB). SUBEBs are in charge of the delivery and management of pre-primary, primary and junior secondary education services. At the local level, Local Education Authorities (LEAs) carry the responsibility of management and financing of education. The National Commission for Nomadic Education (NCNE) is responsible for nomadic education.
Examples of equity-oriented State education plans include: 1) The education sector plan of Jigawa (2013-2022) mentions a set of initiatives, including measures to improve student access and retention, including free education for girls, people with special needs and improvements in the school feeding system. 2) The education sector plan from Kano (2009-2018) aims to reduce gender disparities including through a cash transfer program to encourage girls education, support access to students with disabilities, orphans, students with HIV/AIDS, students from nomadic communities.
The Kano State has developed different programs. Regarding disadvantaged students, the SMoE aims to expand nomadic school programme and increase the number of Islamic, Qur’anic and Tsangaya Education (IQT) integrated schools. The Plan also aims to implement an in-kind/cash transfer scheme for disadvantaged pupils (orphaned, marginalised and vulnerable children, including as a result of HIV/AIDS. To encourage senior secondary school completion, the SMoE Senior plans to introduce a NGN 400-600 thousand grant (US $ 1000-1500) to support school development plans.
The Osun State Elementary School Feeding and Health Programme (O-MEALS Programme) was implemented for the period 2012-2015. It provided one mid-morning school meal a day for over 252 thousand primary school children in elementary grades 1–4 (0.4% of all school-aged children) in all 1,382 public primary schools in Osun State. The budget in 2013 was approximately, NGN 2.6 billion (US$ 16.4 million) corresponding to 0.15% of public expenditure in education, excluding staff salaries and other support costs covered by other ministries.
Nigeria’s National Home Grown School Feeding (HGSF) Programme was launched in 2016. The program aims to provide free school meals with food procured from local smallholder farmers. The HGSF programme is part of a NGN 500 billion funded Social Investment Programme. The program currently has 9.4 million beneficiaries (14.3% of total school-aged children) in 44 thousand schools. The school program operates in 26 out of Nigeria's 36 states. According to a 2018 N-SIP report, the cost of feeding per child in the HGSF is at an agreed cost of NGN 70 per day for 200 days in the year, and there were 5.5 million primary school students, corresponding to NGN 77 billion (US $ 200 million) or 4.6% of public expenditure in education.
The Federal Ministry of Education (FMOE) and Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) received US $ 150 million from the World Bank to implement the State Education Program Investment Project for Nigeria (2013-2020). The project aims to support: (a) need-based teacher deployment; (b) school-level management and accountability; and (c) measurement of student learning in Participating States. The project targets 3.3 million low-income students (5% of school-aged children). The average funding is US $ 19 million per year and it corresponds to 0.44% of public expenditure in education.
The Kano State has developed a program to target to rural local government authorities and to 20% of junior secondary school students (equal numbers of boys and girls), distributing grants of NGN 3000 per student per year (US $ 8). In 2019, Kano State started the disbursement of NGN 1.5 billion (approx. US$4.1 million, corresponding to 0.09% of public expenditure in education) in scholarships to 34,698 schoolgirls (0.05% of school-aged children) in the state to improve access to quality education.
The SMoE of Jigawa has set policies to include education access:
- Payment of scholarship allowance: The objective is to enable more qualified and willing students to further their education. In 2011/12 academic year, the state government spent NGN 289 million (US $ 750 thousand) corresponding to 0.02% of public expenditure in education as scholarship allowance to 17.7 thousand indigenous students (0.03% of school-aged children) pursuing various programmes and courses in tertiary educational institutions.
- Stipend for girl enrollment: A program to encourage girl’s permanence in schools, through NGN 19 thousand (US $ 49) to each girl in primary and junior secondary school for every term, and NGN 40 thousand (US $ 103) to parents who enroll their daughters in school.
The FME has received US $ 100.5 million from the GPE to improve access and quality of basic education in selected states, with particular attention to girls’ participation (2015-2019). Component 2 on increasing Access to Basic Education for Out-of-School Girls with anestimated total cost of US$40 million (0.92% of public expenditure in education), among other components includes scholarships to households to encourage the enrolment of girls in lower primary schools. The program supported 87,000 girls through state specific scholarship schemes (0.13% of school-aged children). The budget for this component is US $ 30 million (0.7% of public expenditure in education).
In Care of the Poor (COPE) is a government-run conditional cash transfer scheme (supported by UNICEF, the UK and the World Bank) which started in 2007. The objective is to break the intergenerational transmission of poverty, as well as reducing girls' dropout resulting from early marriage specifically in the transition period from primary to secondary school. Beneficiary households receive a monthly Basic Income Guarantee (BIG) for one year and then a lump sum Poverty Reduction Accelerator Investment (PRAI). The BIG ranges from $10 to $33, depending on the number of children in the household. Payments are based on households meeting two key conditions: enrolment and retention of children of basic school age in basic education and participation in all free health care programme. However, the programme only reaches approximately 22,000 households (0.05% of all households), resulting in coverage of less than 0.001% of the poor households at the poverty rate of 54%. In 2009, the budget was just over NGN 2 billion ($13.2 million), corresponding to 0.04% of total public expenditure.