Overtime, public expenditure has always been a lubricant in physical and human capital formation. Government has the obligation of protecting and providing basic amenities for the citizenry (Abdullah, 2010). The protection function includes establishment of the rule of law, enforcing and protecting the rights of the citizenry in order to avoid crime cases. The provision function involves basic amenities like stable power supply, good transportation network, good health facilities, quality education, agriculture, etc. philosophers like Hobbes and Locke predict how dreadful the society would have been in the absence of government (Devarjan, Swaroop and Zou 2006).

Economic theory pointed that it is not really about the size of the government, but what matters most is the cost and the benefits of the resources allocated; to determine whether the allocated resources either increases or decreases the state of the economy. Public expenditure is a basic economic policy that immensely contributes to the sustainable development of the economy. For instance, the expenditure on education, health, infrastructure like road, communication, and power improves the productivity of labour and increase the growth of national output. Furthermore, scholars like Abdullah (2010) and Cooray (2009) summarized that a well mapped out and implemented expenditure contributes positively to the economic growth of a country.

Through an investigation that was carried out on the fiscal operation of Nigeria, it was discovered that education is grouped under social and community services sector; thus, making education a public good which is a means to an end (Orubu, 1989). The core benefit of education is tied towards understanding, controlling, altering and redesigning of human environment (CBN, 2000). Education improves quality of living- health, productivity and chance of getting a good job (Anyanwu et al., 1999). Education and development are interrelated has pointed out by Ola (1998: 14) “If you see any economy that is not doing well, find out what is spent on education”. That is the reason why scholars such as psacharopoulos (1973), Combs (1985) and Aboribo (1999) reiterated that an increase in per capita income and in the nation’s GDP is due to education and observable differences amongst nations lies in what was allocated to their human development. No wonder the ‘Asian Tigers’ in the last three decades allocated about 25-35% of their annual budgets to their education sector (Aboribo, 1999:61).

In most developing countries, providing basic education is the first priority of the government. Education is a right and a responsibility for everyone without limitations (Anyanwu et al., 1999). According to Benjamin Franklin, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, “An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.” It is a transforming tool that can change the world. Fund has always been a major problem the education system of Nigeria encounters. Thus, it is urgent to close the gap experienced in funding the education sector, in order for students to enjoy all that is required to aid quality education. Education in Nigeria is characterized by dilapidated structures, sub-standard libraries, poorly equipped laboratories, etc. in addition; many Nigerian students are taught only theories with no practical to make the acquired knowledge complete.

Subsequently, budgetary allocations to the education sector keep falling below the UNESCO’s benchmark of 26% of a country’s annual budget. Here is a brief pattern of what Nigeria’s allocation to education looks like- N448.01 billion (2017), N369.6 billion (2016), N483 billion (2015), N495 billion (2014), N427 billion (2013). A look at the above data proves that the allocation to education sector is not meeting the standards of UNESCO. The after-effect of this is reflected in the economic growth of Nigeria as “No improvement is possible with unimproved people” (Galbrouth, 1964).

However, the purpose of this study is to examine public expenditures on education in Nigeria: issues, estimates and some implications.


Over decades little has been allocated to education, and this is reflecting in its output.

Yearly, unemployable graduates are produced into the society as a result of poor funding of the education system. Graduates are taught purely theory without practical; for instance, a mass communication graduate may not be able to identify a console in a studio, though this example is not particular to mass communication graduates only. Due to the absence of teaching aids, teachers/lecturers are lazy in discharging their duties; they use it as an excuse.

In addition, inadequate public expenditure on education has made Nigerian students lack confidence in them that they cannot compete with their peers from other countries.

These are some of the problems of the topic under study.






1.3   OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY                          

        The major objective of this study is to examine public expenditures on education in Nigeria: Issues, estimates and some implications.

                Other specific objectives include:

1.To investigate the significant relationship between public expenditure and national development.

2.To examine the relationship between public expenditure on education and human capital development.

3.To examine the reasons for low public expenditure on education.

4.To identify ways of correcting the implication of low expenditures of education on student’s performance.

5.To recommend means of improving public expenditure on education in Nigeria.

1.4   RESEARCH QUESTIONS                                                        

The following research questions are generated to guide this study:

  1. What is the significant relationship between public expenditure and national development?
  2. What is the relationship between public expenditure on education and human capital development?
  3. What are the reasons for low public expenditure on education?
  4. What are the ways of correcting the implication of low expenditures of education on student’s performance?
  5. What are the means of improving public expenditure on education in Nigeria


H0:   There is no significant relationship between public expenditure on education and human capital development.

H1:   There is a significant relationship between public expenditure on education and human capital development.



This study is meant to inform, educate, sensitize and enlighten the general public, university administrators, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), international organizations and government on public expenditures on education in Nigeria: issues, estimates and some implications.

This study aims at bringing to the knowledge of the government that the revenue allocated to education does not improve the state of the economy, rather it has made Nigeria really backward in other sectors of the economy. the study is coming as a wake-up call to the government to step-up on its allocation to the education sector, even as education contributes in the positive growth of the economy. 

This study will be of immense benefit to other researchers who intend to know more on this topic and can also be used by non-researchers to build more on their work. This study contributes to knowledge and could serve as a guide for other work or study.




This study is restricted to public expenditures on education in Nigeria: issues, estimates and some implications.


Limitations of study

  1. 1.        Financial constraint- Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).
  2. 2.        Time constraint- The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.





PUBLIC EXPENDITURE: Is spending made by the government of a country on collective needs and wants such as pension, provision, infrastructure, etc. Until the 19th century, public expenditure was limited as laissez faire philosophies believed that money left in private hands could bring better returns.

ISSUES: An important topic or problem for debate or discussion

ESTIMATE: An opinion or judgment especially of the value or quality of something or to judge tentatively or approximately the value, worth, or significance of something.

IMPLICATION: The conclusion that can be drawn from something, although it is not explicitly stated.

UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization): Is a specialized agency of the United Nations (UN) based in Paris. Its declared purpose is to contribute to peace and security by promoting international collaboration through educational, scientific, and cultural reforms in order to increase universal respect for justice, the rule of law, and human rights along with fundamental freedom proclaimed in the United Nations Charter. It is the heir of the League of Nations' International Committee on Intellectual Cooperation.

UNESCO pursues its objectives through five major programs: education, natural sciences, social/human sciences, culture and communication/information. Projects sponsored by UNESCO include literacy, technical, and teacher-training programmes, international science programmes, the promotion of independent media and freedom of the press, regional and cultural history projects, the promotion of cultural diversity, translations of world literature, international cooperation agreements to secure the world cultural and natural heritage (World Heritage Sites) and to preserve human rights, and attempts to bridge the worldwide digital divide. It is also a member of the United Nations Development Group


Abdullah, H. A. (2010). The relationship between government expenditure and economic growth in Saudi Arabia. Journal of

Admin. Science, 12(2), 173-191.


Psacharopoulos, G. 1973. Returns to Education. San Francisco: Jossey Bass Inc. Publishers.


Coombs, P.H. 1985. The World Crisis in Education: The View from the Eighties. New York: Oxford University Press.


Aboribo, R.1999. “University Funding and Development in Nigeria”, (pp.57-67) in P.C. Egbon, and C. O. Orubu (eds.)

Critical Issues in Nigeria’s Development .Abraka: Faculty of the Social Sciences, Delta State University.



Galbrait, J.K. 1964. Economic Development. London: O.U.P.



Anyawu, J.C., A. Oyefusi, H. Oaikhenam and F.A. Dimowo 1997. Structure of the Nigeria Economy. Onitsha: Joanee Education Publishers Ola, Vincent 1998. “Education in National Development”. Vanguard Newspaper August 2.


Central Bank of Nigeria 2000. The Changing Structure of the Nigerian Economy and Implications for Development. Lagos: Realm Communications Ltd.



Devarjan, S., Swaroop, V. & Zou, H. (2006). The composition

of public expenditure and economic growth. Journal of Monetary Economics, 37, 313-344.


Cooray, A. (2009). Government expenditure, governance and economic growth, Comp. Econ. Stud, 51(3), 401-418.


Orubu, C.O. 1989. “A Quantitative Analysis of Factors Influencing Federal Government Expenditure on Education”.

Abraka Journal of Education, 1: 150-162.


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