Some countries in the world offer free education to their citizens and even to international students. According to scoopwhoop.com, Germany tops the list of countries that offers an excellent education, and it is entirely free.
However, these countries were able to succeed due to their thriving economy and the sincerity of their government to commit to quality education.
In Nigeria, education is not free at all level, and this can only be found in public schools. This program is offered at the primary and secondary level.
Nigeria subscribed to the universal declaration of human right which says that
Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free at least, in elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory … education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality.
It was against this background that the then government of the old western Nigeria (1952 – 62) made free primary education an essential pillar of its program.
In my opinion, the poor people in society are the most beneficiary of this program because it gives them access to primary education.
Education is expensive, and it will require government intervention to be subsidized or make it free for people who are financially okay in society.
Positive and Negative Effect of Free Education
• It is a means of increasing the literacy rate of any country if the policy is well funded
• It is a means of increasing the number of skilled labor
• It can be a tool that can bridge the gap between the poor and the rich
• If the issue of proper funding and equipping of schools are not addressed, it can lead to schools offering low-quality education
• In Oyo state, the effect of inadequate funding, inadequate supervision of the vast number of schools and students, abandonment of parental responsibility under the pretext of free education, and the lack of zeal to learn on the part of the students, led to mass failure of the first set of the 1979 programme at the West African School Certificate Examination of 1985
• It has become the unbeatable electoral promise in the manifestoes of any political party with the earnest desire to win the support of the people at the polls
• It has become the slogan and a symbol of a caring government that is interested in the welfare of the masses
• Free education within an otherwise unpleasant economy is and could remain a recipe for unemployment
Free Education Policy Implementation in Nigeria
• Schools were established within the short distance reach of pupils throughout the state
• The government provides textbooks for many subjects offered in schools
• Seat and lockers and many other items of school needs including stationeries were supplied free by the state
• There was a 100% transition from primary to secondary education
• There was an automatic promotion of students from one class to another
• Schools had a ratio of 1.5 teachers to a classroom, which was insufficient
• Schools lack accommodation and essential equipment
• College fees were abolished
Free education can be a success if the government and stakeholders in the country are committed to a robust economy, willing to monitor the proper execution of the policy, ready to employ qualified teachers in the school and provide adequate funding.