CHILDREN AND THEIR ACCESS TO QUALITY EDUCATION
1.1 Background to the Study
Education plays an important role in children’s lives, as it is the path that is guaranteed to enable them attains their full potentials in life. Children can only blossom socially and absorb instructions, when exposed to quality education, which also helps them acquire basic knowledge. Sadly, however, many children cannot access quality education as a result of various factors. In an ideal world, primary education would be universal and publicly financed, and all children would be able to attend school regardless of their parents' ability or willingness to pay. The reason is that a child that fails to get the basic skills needed to act as an effective and responsible member of society, such a child will be considered inferior with other children in the society. The cost of educating children is far outweighed by the cost of not educating them. Adults who lack basic skills have greater difficulty finding well-paying jobs and escaping poverty. Education for girls has astonishing benefits in the sense that incomes are higher and there is a lower rate in maternal and infant for women because of their acquired knowledge through education. They also have more personal freedom in making choices in one area or the other.
Many children in poor countries drop out of school before graduating. In 1999, the completion rated the percentage of children of graduating age who completed primary school that year as 73 percent in developing countries as against a group of 81 percent in East Asia, compared to 50 percent in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. As discouraging as these figures are, they, too, represent an improvement: completion rates were lower in 1990. Today in Nigeria, more than two million children in the northern region, which is the most affected area, do not have access to basic primary education. Most of these children, who started primary education, were unable to finish, while many of them that completed it will still miss out on secondary education. In Nigeria today, some half a million adolescents are receiving post primary education. The major contributory factor to this dilemma is unaffordable cost. Poverty is the greatest barrier to high quality education, and even when primary education is free, there are also the additional costs of uniforms, books, teachers’ salaries and school maintenance, all of which create tremendous burden to poor families.
In conclusion, in order to salvage the dying educational sector, both the public and private school sector to ensure that it serves the child’s best interest, parents should constitute themselves into informed and organised regulatory bodies. The primary mandate of the regulatory body is to insist on quality education, provided in a protected environment. For example, we have the Nigeria Police, which cannot adequately provide security. So, as citizens, we provide for ourselves alternative means of securing our lives and property.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
The problem that is common to many developing countries is that the governments lack either the financial power or the political will to meet their citizens' educational needs. In response to this, poor parents in some low income countries organize and pay for their children's education themselves while some of them still hope in government for their children’s education. School fees and other user payments are a heavy burden for some parents to bear when it comes to sending their children to school.
Nigeria’s population growth has put pressure on the country’s resources, public ser-vices and infrastructure. With children under 15 years of age accounting for 45 per cent of the 171 million populations, the burden on education has become overwhelming. The numbers of children that enrolling into primary school for elementary education has greatly increased in recent years, but subtracting the numbers of those that are absent from those that are present is only about 70 per cent, but Nigeria still has 10.5 million children who are not in school. This is the world’s highest number. Sixty per cent of those children are in northern Nigeria. About 60 per cent of out-of-school children are girls. Some of those that even enrol drop out early. This reason is because of the low perceptions of the value of education for girls and early marriages. Some states in the north have laws that stipulates the level in which girls can acquire education before they are been withdrawn and sent for marriages. Although, primary school attendance for girls has recently been encouraging with but this is an exception for girls from the poorest households. This study was therefore geared towards improving and providing useful tips on how children can have access to good and quality education to enable them realise their full potentials in life.
1.3 Research Questions
The following are some of the questions which this study intends to answer:
i) what are the prevailing factors that are responsible for children and their access to quality education in Nigeria?
ii) what are the reasons for the children and their access to quality education in Nigeria?
iii) what are the roles of parents and government in ensuring that children have access to quality education in Nigeria?
1.4 Objectives of the Study
This study investigated children and their access to quality education. However, th specific objectives were:
i) to examine the prevailing factors that are responsible for children and their access to quality education in Nigeria
ii) to assess out the reasons for the children and their access to quality education in Nigeria
iii) to determine the roles of parents and government in ensuring that children have access to quality education in Nigeria
1.5 Significance of the Study
The findings from this study would benefit parents, government and even school children in understanding what quality education means in life. It will also help the parents and the government to know the best way to follow in order to achieve good and quality education for the children and learn the subtle ways of tackling any problem that may want to stand in the way of achieving access to good and quality education for children.
1.6 Scope of the Study
The study investigated children and their access to quality education. It therefore covered only the primary school children, parents and government. This is because they are the subjects that accurate and adequate information can be got from.
1.7 Limitation of the study
Because the study focused on children and their access to quality education, the researcher was not faced with many challenges as the respondents were readily available to give their thoughts on children and their access to quality education. This made it easier and convenient for researcher. However, the researcher was faced with the challenge of finance to print as much as two hundred questionnaires but was able to print only one hundred and fifty questionnaires for the study.
1.8 Definitions of Terms
The following terms were used in the course of this study:
Access: the right or privilege to approach, reach, enter, or make use of something.
Children: A person between birth and puberty
Quality Education: It refers to providing all learners with capabilities they require to become economically productive, develop sustainable livelihoods, contribute to peaceful and democratic societies and enhance individual well-being.