Education is a sustainable tool for the socio-economic and political development of nations. Across the globe, federating units understand the importance of education for national development. Most written constitutions assign educational responsibilities to both the central and sub-national levels of government.
In Nigeria and most federal countries, education is on the Concurrent Legislative List. However, based on the provisions of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), Second Schedule, Part 1, item 60 (e); the Federal Government has the exclusive legislative power to establish regulatory activities for the Federal or any part thereof and to prescribe minimum standards of education at all levels.
This provision confers on the federal government the powers to formulate educational policies and programmes for implementation by sub-national levels of government.
Furthermore, Part 2, Second Schedule, Item 27 (Concurrent Legislative List); the constitution provides that both the National Assembly and State House of Assembly have powers to make laws with respect to university education, technological education, or such professional education as deemed necessary.
The National Assembly has powers to establish an institution for the purpose of university, post-primary, technological, or professional education. The State House of Assembly has the power to establish an institution for the purposes of university, post-primary, technological, or professional education.
Furthermore, the States House of Assembly has the power to make laws for the State with respect to technical, vocational, post-primary, primary, or other forms of education, including the establishment of institutions for the pursuit of such education. This shows that it is the exclusive preserve of States to establish primary schools.
Similarity paragraph 2 (a) of the Fourth Schedule of the same constitution provides that the functions of local government council shall include the participation of such council in the government of the state with respect to the provision and maintenance of primary, adult, and vocational education.
As part of the statutory responsibility of the Federal Government in the formulation of educational policies for the Nigerian Federation; the Federal Ministries of Education (FME), the 36 State Ministries of Education (SMOEs), and the FCT Education Secretariat, as well as the 774 Local Government Education Authorities (LGEAs), are statutory partners. The policy framework is carried out by the FME in conjunction with sub-national levels of government whose roles cut across policy formulation, domestication, and implementation.
Therefore, the National Policy on Education (NPE, 2014) recognized the composition of the National Council on Education (NCE) and the Joint Consultative Committee on Education (JCCE).
The National Council on Education (NCE) comprises the Minister of Education as Chairman; Hon. Minister of State for Education, State Commissioners of Education, and the FCT Education Secretary as members. This is the highest body for formulating education policies in Nigeria. The NCE provides a forum for consensus-building on education policy directions to be implemented at different levels of education, with varying degrees of adaptations for specific needs and peculiarities of states.
The Joint Consultative Committee on Education (JCCE) comprises of Professional Officers of the Federal and State Ministries of Education and FCT Education Secretariat, and their Parastatals, as well as other relevant stakeholders. The JCCE provides the necessary framework and recommendations for consideration by the NCE. Both NCE and JCCE are very strategic in the process of formulating educational policies for national and subnational utilization and development.
Therefore, based on the directives and resolutions of NCE, and its statutory responsibilities, (constitutional provisions); the Federal Ministry of Education (FME) has the overall responsibility of formulating national education policies, coordinating the implementation of policy provisions, and quality control in service delivery.
The States are charged with the responsibilities of policy implementation, domestication, evaluation, monitoring, and feedback from education agencies and institutions. To perform its statutory functions adequately and satisfactorily; the Federal Ministry of Education (FME) is divided into Sixteen (16) Departments.
These include: Tertiary Education, Basic and Secondary Education; Education Support Service; Technology and Science Education; Federal Education Quality Assurance Service; Education Planning, Research, and Development; Federal Scholarship; Information and Communication Technology; Human Resource Management; Finance and Accounts; Procurement; Reform Coordination and Service Improvement; Internal Audit, Library Services, General Service Department; and Polytechnic Education and Allied Institutions.
These Departments are also expected to be established by the State Ministries of Education to perform similar functions at the state levels.
Ministries have Departments and Agencies (MDA). This helps in the decentralization of policy frameworks, quality control assurance, and the coordination of policies’ implementation mechanisms. This is also applicable in the Ministry of Education. At the Federal level, the agencies are called ‘Commission’, ‘Board’, ‘Council’ etc. in most cases. Their counterparts in the states are called ‘Boards’. The FME has over Seventeen (17) agencies.
These include: The National University Commission (NUC); Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria (TRCN); Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB); National Board for Technical Education (NBTE); National Commission for Colleges of Education (NCCE); National Examination Council (NECO); National Institution of Educational Planning and Administration (NIEPA); National Library of Nigeria (NLN); National Mathematics Centre (NMC); Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC); West African Examination Council (WAEC); National Teachers’ Institute (NTI); Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council (NERDC); Computer Professionals Registration Council of Nigeria (CPRCN) and the Librarians’ Registration Council of Nigeria (LRCN).
These agencies help the FME and SMOEs in the formulation, domestication, and implementation of educational policies and programmes at both the federal and sub-national levels of government.
The Secretariat of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) understands that the implementation, monitoring, evaluation, and domestication component of all education policies are shouldered by sub-national governments. Also, identifying the main strategic transformations and levers for reimaging education for the 21st Century and accelerating education progress toward shared educational goals are challenges faced by sub-national governments in Nigeria.
Therefore, it is imperative to critically review national educational targets, benchmarks, and frameworks; ensure sustained public financing of education and strengthen the capacity of sub-national governments to provide quality and sustainable education for the benefit of Nigerians.
NGF Secretariat as the technical and administrative arm of the forum that provides policy guidelines to the States; mandates the Education Unit to facilitate and coordinate the implementation, domestication, and evaluation of educational policies and programmes on behalf of the 36 State Governors.
This is done through a sustained cordial relationship and cooperation with the Federal Ministry of Education, State Ministries of Education, educational agencies, and relevant stakeholders and partners. (To be continued…)
Ebenezer, Leo the Great PhD
Head, Education (NGF)