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Achieving millennium development goal in education in Lagos State: cost challenges.


The MDGs aims to spur development by improving social and economic conditions in the world's poorest countries. They derive from earlier international development targets. Progress towards reaching the goals has been uneven. Some countries have achieved many of the goals, while others are not on track to realize any. The major countries that have been achieving their goals include China (whose poverty population has reduced from 452 million to 278 million) and India due to clear internal and external factors of population and economic development. However, areas needing the most reduction, such as the Sub-Saharan Africa regions have yet to make any drastic changes in improving their quality of life. At the same time, unlike China, the Sub-Saharan Africa reduced their poverty about one percent, and are at a major risk of not meeting the MDGs by 2015. Fundamental issues will determine whether or not the MDGs are achieved, namely gender, the divide between the humanitarian and development agendas and economic growth, according to the Oversea Development Institute. In an opening remarks at the General Assembly where world leaders pledge to help Africa achieve the MDGs, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stressed that $72 billion per year was needed in external financing to achieve the Millennium Goals by 2015. While that figure might seem daunting, it was, in fact, affordable, particularly considering the $267 billion spent last year by Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries on agricultural subsidies alone (UN 2008).

Africa Renewal (2005) notes that while Africa has made some modest progress in increasing school enrolment among others, it has enormous challenges as it will not be able to approach the MDGs achievement by 2015 unless both African countries and international community mobilize far more efforts and resources. The Report notes that overall, some 45 million children in Africa are not attending primary school more than in South Asia which has a larger population. According to a communique issued by the third International Conference on Quality Assurance in Higher Education in Africa (ICQAHEA) (2008), in the race to 2015 when the goals are expected to be met, African countries are proceeding at a worryingly slow pace. At the January 2008 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, the global community called for urgent action at quickening the pace of progress of Africa so that no region was left behind in the march towards 2015.

Prior to the establishment of these goals, the Nigerian government had introduced the Universal Basic Education(UBE) program in 1999 targeted to make education free and compulsory from primary to junior secondary education as basic education is the ultimate liberator, empowering individuals to make personal and social choices that will enhance their living standard and as noted by Fredrikson (2002) no country in the world has achieved sustained growth without first achieving at least an average of five to six years of basic education among its adults. The goal of basic education is to raise the literacy level. It can be said that literacy is a pillar on which the major part of an economy stands. From creating awareness of rights, increasing social mobility and economic empowerment among the citizens, the anomalies and inequities in developing nations can be reduced very easily and the economy will multiply through basic education.

The purpose of this study therefore was to examine the cost challenges faced by parents and guardians in sending their wards to acquire basic education in Lagos State which is geared towards the educational goals of the MDGs.


An educated country is a developed country. Literacy level plays a major role in the economic development of a nation. According to Qurratulain (2006), literacy brings all the positive changes in variable factors of production as well as in infrastructure development; it also minimizes or may wipe out negativities. From an analytical point of view the economic prosperity and literacy are the two directly proportional procedures which have a great influence on each other. As a country's workforce is educated, skilled, organized, competitive and wanting to go ahead, no one can stop such an economy from being prosperous. Concisely economic development depends on the qualitative workforce and this qualitative workforce can be acquired by developing professional, social and communication skills through literacy and education. This is the basis for the concept of human capital. As the people of a country are literate they will work much better for their own and as they will work to satisfy their needs, simultaneously country's economy will grow and develop. If people are literate, then there will be minimum violence in the country. Literacy leads to good employment opportunities. If literacy level is high in a nation, then there will be more number of entrepreneurs and the flow of money will be huge. According to the Human Capital Theory, there must be investment in the development of human resources to meet the manpower needs of every nation and it is the ability of this human resource to harness all other resources effectively and efficiently that leads to development. The modern Human Capital Theory, according to Jerome-Forget (1997), traces its origin to the 1960's in the works of Schultz, Mincer and Becker on the theoretical and empirical work on the relationship between education and earnings. Jerome-Forget noted that in the 'new growth' theories of Romer, Banoa and Lucas, human capital is the key determinant of economic growth. Since the principal institutional mechanism for developing human skills and knowledge is the formal education system, most developing nations have accepted the notion of human capital as the engine of growth hence they have invested heavily in education according to Ishola (2002).

According to Samuel (1987), human capital is defined as the provision of skilled labour force strengthened by educational training. It involves meaningful training which enables an educated person acquires specific skill necessary for his efficient functioning in the economy of any nation through employment. When there is demand for employment, there will be a huge rise in the number of schools and colleges. When there are more number of schools, public can get easy access to schools and colleges at affordable costs. In this manner all will get education and the literacy level will go up. The demand in the industry is directly relational to the demand in the education sector and in turn directly related to literacy level and vice versa. That's because a 1 per cent increase in literacy rates will achieve a permanent 1.5 per cent gain in per capita GDP ... and a 2.5 per cent increase in labour productivity according to a Howe Institute report in 2005.

As noted by Bourgnignon, Benaisy-Qurere, Devcon, Estache , Gunning, Kanbur, Klasen , Maxwell , Platteau , Sporado (2008), the MDGs have played an essential political role in mobilizing support for development assistance at a time when aids disbursement were on a downward trend in many key Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries. A vast majority of developing countries do not produce reliable figures on infant and child mortality, water access or poverty. Many among the poorest and most vulnerable countries do not report any data on most MDGs. When it is available, data are often plagued with comparability problems.

Patil (2009) Emphasizing the role of literacy and education in overall human development, said that literacy and education confer a wide set of benefits not only on individuals and families, but also on communities as a whole. In her speech on the occasion of the International Literacy Day at Vigyan Bhawan in New Delhi, the she noted that social benefits arise on account of better knowledge and awareness that literacy gives as it helps in improving implementation of social welfare programmes, fighting social evils and in building tolerant societies. Dukku (2009) said that literacy also empowers people economically and politically and that if the education system is not right at the basic level, it will affect the secondary and tertiary levels. To her as representative of the Nigerian state, the greatest fear is non achievement of the EFA and MDG goals as Nigeria has been classified under E9 countries. These are countries with the highest number of illiterates in the world.


According to Soyinka (2007) in a recent finding by the Federal Ministry of Education study contained in a report titled State of Nigerian public schools, out of 140 million Nigerians 45% (63 million) are children from 0 to 15 years. Out of these 63 million, 42.1 million were eligible for primary school education only 22.3 million were in primary schools with the public school system catering for 85%. So 47% (19.8 million) Nigerian children that should be in primary school were out of school and the major reason for this state of affair is the inability of most parents to bear the cost of sending their children to school.

The Lagos State Government has always had a free education program whereby tuition fees are not paid by parents. Historically, this was a legacy from the Western Region Government of the 60's and Unity Party of Nigeria in the 70's that maintained free tuition in primary and secondary education. But despite the policy of free education, parents still bear the cost of school related fees which negates the rate of achievement of the MDGs. The goal of tuition free education as pointed out by Fredriksen (2006) is to include the poor, the rural child and girls in the education system who are excluded by virtue of poverty yet the government introduced cost-burden sharing measures as education levies that discouraged the goal of free education program in the state. (Lagos State Education Yearbook, 1997).


Hypothesis 1: Social cost of basic education per pupil differs significantly from private cost of basic education per pupil in Lagos.


Population and Sample of the study

The population of the study comprised all the 937 public primary schools in the five divisions of Lagos State. It also comprised of the parents whose children attend these public schools. A stratified random sampling technique was used to select 250 parents whose wards attended public primary schools.

Research Instruments

For this study, two instruments Social Cost of Basic Education Questionnaire (SCBEQ) and Private Costs of Basic Education Questionnaire (PCBEQ). The SCBEQ was used to collect social costs of basic education from governmental authorities and it was assumed reliable because it collected secondary data from government institutions. The PCBEQ was used to collect the private costs of basic education from parents and guardians of pupils. It was subjected to reliability test using Kudar-Richardson K-R (21) formula and the coefficient was 0.99. The social costs include among others capital and recurrent costs, costs of books and materials, scholarships and bursaries, operational costs such as electricity bills, water rates, telephone rates and maintenance costs while private costs included cost of books and materials, development fees, costs of uniforms, Parents Teachers Association fees, costs of examination materials, cost of sports activities, cost of chairs and desks, costs of school meals per nine months, cost of transport for nine months and opportunity costs.

Data Collection

Visits were made by the researchers to the Lagos State Central Office of Statistics, State Universal Basic Education Board(SUBEB) and Federal Office of Statistics (FOS) to collect relevant secondary data on social costs of basic education through the use of the SCBEQ in Lagos State while the validated and reliable PCBEQ was administered through research assistants to 250 parents who had children attending public primary schools in those areas selected through stratified sampling technique.

Statistical Techniques

In the data analysis, relevant unit costs was computed using the following formulae:

Average Social Cost per pupil (ASC) = Total Social Cost/Total Pupil Enrolment

Average Private Cost per pupil (APC) = Total Private Cost/Total Pupils involved

The data analysis also involved the use of the following formulae to determine the extent of variations between private costs and social costs per pupil within the duration of normal basic school system.

Private Cost

(a) PC = [n.summation over ([pi]=1)][(1-P).sup.t...(1)]

Where PC refers to the total Private cost of the duration of normal school system (six years) per pupil.

n = Duration of Normal Basic education

[pi] = The year involved

A = Annual Private Cost

P = Price Index for the Year under study Social Cost

(b) SC = a (K) + [n.summation over ([pi]-1)](R)[(1-P).sup.t...(2)]

Where SC = Total Social Cost for the duration of normal basic education per pupil in Lagos State

a = The fraction of unit capital investment 'used up' by each pupil enrolled during the period of his/her studies (the value being taken as 6/40)

K = Average Capital Cost per pupil

R = Unit Recurrent Cost per annum

P = Price Index for the year under study

The test of significant differences between it average social cost per pupil and average private cost per pupil in Lagos State basic education was also done using T-test statistic.


Some pupils boarded buses and motor bikes to school. This has significant effect on private cost of education per pupil as the fares paid increased with continuous hike in petroleum products. The inflationary pressures also gingered up the amount spent on meals at school by pupils as private vendor providers of meals determined the prices based on inflationary trends. The inflammatory pressures also gingered up amount spent on meals during the school periods by pupils. There were private vendors whose prices of meals being offered were influenced by inflation. Government was in charge of making provision for that sell meals to pupils at prices determined by them.

Though both the average private cost and average social cost escalated from year to year in the periods under study because of inflationary pressures in the economy, the table indicates that individual parents were spending more on primary education per child than the government in Lagos State. This has serious implication for the achievement of the MDGs as the average parents in the state earns less than a dollar per day.

Table 4: The Amount It Cost (At Current Prices) The Government To Give A Complete Six Year Primary Education

SC = a (K) + [n.summation over ([pi]-1)](R)[(1-P).sup.t...(2)]

The analysis reveals that the result is significant at alpha level of 0.05 with degrees of freedom. This indicates that the average social cost of basic education per pupil in Lagos State is significantly different from the average private cost of basic education in Lagos State. Through the use of SCBEQ in Lagos State while validated and realized PCBEQ was administered through research assistants to 250 parents who had children attending public primary schools in those areas selected through stratified sampling technique (The data collected from parents were primary data).


The study was limited in scope to Lagos State public primary schools owing to readily available data office of statistics, State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) and Local Government Education Authorities (LGEAS), except those data relating to international donor agencies on public basic education funding which the officials of the government institutions concerned did not release because of what they termed "High Confidentiality" in record keeping. Time factor also limited this study to only the parents of those pupils who attended public primary schools. Despite these limitations, the interpretation of the results of this study was not affected and it remains valid.


Only two states in West of Nigeria run free education program, Lagos and Ogun State yet in Lagos State it is not free in absolute terms as households pay more to send children to primary schools and this has resulted in dwindling enrolment from 1999 until 2002 and this has invariably showed the ineffectiveness of achieving the educational goals of the MDGs in Lagos State in particular and Nigeria in general.

According to a United Nations Development Program/Federal Republic of Nigeria (2008) Midpoint Assessment of MDGs in Nigeria 2000-2007, the primary completion rate may continue to suffer because some states Ministry of Education charge examination fees which many parents and guardians cannot easily afford. Primary six completion rates however declined from 8 out 10 in 2000 to 7 in 2007. In a study of government expenditure on Nigeria primary

school education by Adenegan, Yususf and Sodipo (2002), it was found that average household spending on each child was more than government unit subsidy. Reiterating the components of household expenditure, they said the costs incurred by households were on transportation, feeding, purchase of books and stationaries, uniforms as well as non-tuition fees. They also discovered that non-poor households benefited more than (40 percent) from government subsidy than core poor households (27 percent).

The United Nations Development Program 2007 Report has substantiated the result of this study as it noted that in sub-Saharan Africa, school fees consume nearly a quarter of a poor family's income, paying not only for tuition, but also indirect fees such as Parent-Teacher Association and community contributions, textbook fees, compulsory uniforms and other charges and concluded that fees are keeping school children out of the classrooms and that Countries such as Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania and Uganda which abolished school fees, enrolment increased drastically citing Ghana, as an example where public school enrolment in the most deprived districts and nationwide soared from 4.2 million to 5.4 million between 2004 and 2005. If a state like Lagos which is one of the richest states in Nigeria professes free education and cannot provide it then it will be difficult for the average Nigerian to bear the cost of education hence achieving universal primary education at national and continental level may not be achieved at the expected time frame. This reality has led to various statements as those involved in the MDG effort have been virtually unanimous that Sub-Saharan Africa stands out in that it will not meet ANY of the goals, as the following quotes attest:

"Africa ... is the only continent not on track to meet any of the goals of the Millennium Declaration by 2015."(UN World Summit Declaration, 2005)

"in Africa ... the world is furthest behind in progress to fulfill [the MDGs] ... Africa is well behind target on reaching all the goals." (Blair Commission for Africa 2005)

"Sub-Saharan Africa, which at current trends will fall short of all the goals." (p. xi, foreword by James Wolfensohn and Rodrigo de Rato, World Bank and IMF Global Monitoring Report 2007)


It has been shown in this study that government spending on basic education per pupil ha been very low compared to what the household spends per pupil. More disturbingly the high cost of basic education, coupled with meager allocation from the government, seems to be negatively affecting access to education, retention rates and increasingly drop out rates. It was revealed in this study that enrolment declined in 2003 (see table 1). This decline had been attributed to the high cost of education. When confronted with limited income, parents, particularly the poor ones tend to withdraw their children from school. Since there is shortage of financial resources and more school age children are out of school because of high cost of basic education, it is necessary to review cost sharing in education at reduced costs. Consequently, costs should be cut in the following areas within the basic educational system.

Textbooks and Stationery: The policy issue related to this is the reduction of textbook requirements by schools. In a situation where schools recommend an average of three books per subject, there should be one basic required textbook. Further more, the government should take the responsibility of man dating the state Library Board to open branches to serve students in all Local Government Area and each branch should run a bookshop where pupils can buy at lower costs than the commercial rates offered at other bookshops in the town. Otherwise the government should put in place price control mechanism to regulate the prices of books and stationary in the country. Parents and communities also have a role to play here. Able parents should donate (used and new) textbooks which create book banks so that children from poor homes would not have to buy books every year. At the same time, communities should raise funds specifically for textbooks and stationery. The books bought could equip community libraries, and thus, reduce households' expenditure on education.

* School Uniforms: The Ministry of Education should provide guidelines on uniforms. On the basis of those guidelines, there should be only one uniform for all basic schools in the state. The only difference is that this uniform badges. Further more, there should be community based standard and centralized bulk procurement where parents could buy the needed uniforms at a lower cost.

* The use of Local Materials: Basic schools should make use of local materials instead of importing them. Teachers and pupils should be encouraged to patronize local teaching and learning processes in schools. These bring the costs of education to a minimum level in the state.

* Transportation: To reduce the cost incurred on transportation, parents should be encouraged to allow their children attend schools within walking distance to their homes.


The study has only examined the cost challenges of basic education in Lagos State. A similar research could be conducted on a wider scale into the cost challenges of basic education in Nigeria. Further research could also be carried out on how to boost access to education retention of pupils in schools, and to provide qualitative basic education in a cost efficient manner. Other research work could be conducted on the unit cost of providing secondary education per student in the state so as to determine its cost effectiveness. Efforts should also be made to further research into exploring identifying new sources for financing public basic education in Nigeria through strategic partnership with other nations and international organizations.


In this study, attempt has been made to analyze the cost challenges of public basic education in Lagos State. Effort has also been made to investigate disparity in social cost and private cost per primary school child in Lagos State. It was found that private cost was greater than social cost per child on public basic education. So efforts should be made therefore by the government and all stakeholders to put cost-recovery mechanisms and resource mobilization in place to boost access to education and retention of pupils in school. As suggested by Kimoon(2008), new partnerships and strategies should be explored between government and new partners, including the private sector, faith organizations, non-governmental and community organizations and local actors, to expand possibilities for resource mobilization. In conclusion, Ki-moon words is echoed,

"No one is more alarmed ... at the current trends, which indicate that no African country will achieve all the Goals by 2015,... nevertheless convinced that through concerted action by African Governments and their development partners, the Millennium Development Goals remained achievable."


Adenegan, K. O., Yususf, S.A. & Sodipo, M.A. (2002) .Government expenditure on Nigerian primary school education: benefits incidence approach. African Journal of Education Planning and Policy Studies, 3, Pages 71-81.

African Forum and Network on Debt and Development. (2005) .The Politics of MDGs in Nigeria. Harare, AFRODAD

African Renewal. (2005). Africa and the Challenge of the Millennium Development Goals. 19 (2): 10-17.

Bourgurgnon F, Benaisy-Qurere A, Devcon S, Estache A, Gunning J, Kanbur R Klasen S, Maxwell S, Platteau J, & Sporado, A. (2008). MDG at the midpoint: where do we stand? European Report on Development

Dukku , A. J. (September 2009) We have been disappointing our children. The Guardian, Thursday, 47

Fredriksen, B. (2006). ADEA Successes and Challenges for the future. A keynote address at the Association for the Development of Education African Biennale on Education in Africa, Gabon , March 27-31.

Fredriksen, B. (2002). Education for all African children by 2015: What will it take to keep the promise. A paper prepared for the Forum On Cost and Financing of Education in Nigeria , held at Abuja , September, 18-19.

Ishola, W.A. (2002). The economy education linkage: evidence from Nigeria (1980-1999). Lagos Journal of Educational Administration and Planning,, 2 (1).

Janneh, A. (2008). The MDGs in the African Region. UN Chronicle, 1, 24-25.

Jerome-Forget, M. (1997). Investing in human capital. Policy Options. July/August.

Lagos State Education Year book. (1997). Chronicle of Education Development. Ikeja: Ministry of Education.

Patil, P. (2009). Literacy boost economic development

Qurratulain, A. (2006). Literacy and Economic Development http:/

Samuel, T. (1987). Economic returns to investment in technological education in Lagos State of Nigeria. Unpublished PhD Thesis, University of Ibadan.

Soyinka , A. (2007). One in every two Nigerian classrooms is bad. The Punch, Tuesday, 20, 3.

UNESCO and ICQAHEA. (2008). Communique and Framework for Priority Action. Dakar, Senegal, September, 2008.

United Nations .(2008). World leaders pledge to reinvigorate 'Global Partnership of Equals' to end poverty, hunger, underdevelopment In Africa .' GA/10748. Department of Public Information, News and Media Division, New York

United Nations Development Program. (2007). MDG Monitor available at http://www.Mdgmonitor./goal2.cfm

World Bank .(2007). Global Monitoring Report. July Washington DC: World Bank.

About the Authors:

Stella Ahunanya is a lecturer in Management Sciences at the Nigerian Army School of Finance and Administration, Lagos. Dr. Ahunanya received her Ph. D. in Educational Management with specialization in Economics of Education from the Lagos State University. Her research focus is on Financing and Cost of Education especially higher education.

Samuel Akinyemi is a lecturer at the Department of Educational Management of Lagos State University, Lagos. Dr. Akinyemi received his Ph. D. in Educational Management with specialization in Economics of Education from the Lagos State University. His research focus is on Finance and Cost of Education.

Stella Ahunanya

Nigerian Army School of Finance and Administration

Samuel Akinyemi

Lagos State University
Table 1
Enrolment in public primary schools in
Lagos State between 1998 and 2003.

Year Enrolment

1998 612,466
1999 561,716
2000 609,818
2001 594,309
2002 666,577
2003 497,749

Source: The Lagos State Universal Education Board (LSUBEB)

Table 2
Private Costs of some variables

S/No Items 1998 [??] 1999 [??] 2000 [??]

1. Books and Materials 2,200 2,327 2,793
2. School Uniforms 546 572 687
3. Indirect school fees 1,000 1,125 1063
4. Development Levy 240 280 290
5. Transportation 4,400 4,831 5,941
6. School meals 4,500 4,736 5,086
7. PTA Fees 148 209 254
8. Examination 200 230 263
9. Chairs and desks Nil Nil Nil
10. Sports activities 460 479 587
11. After school lessons 247 309 380
12. End of year party 300 325 325
13. Opportunity cost 3,860 4,680 5,240

S/No Items 2001 [??] 2002 [??] 2003 [??]

1. Books and Materials 3,100 3,193 3,680
2. School Uniforms 698 761 832
3. Indirect school fees 1200 1263 1438
4. Development Levy 337 394 436
5. Transportation 6,431 7,460 8,169
6. School meals 5,891 6,175 7,481
7. PTA Fees 285 300 325
8. Examination 287 300 350
9. Chairs and desks Nil Nil Nil
10. Sports activities 657 670 750
11. After school lessons 416 466 546
12. End of year party 383 450 467
13. Opportunity cost 8,100 10,120 11,340

Source: Survey

Note: Opportunity cost represents the earnings on the employment
or trading activities engaged by the pupils if they are not in
school. In the analysis, this was accounted for and formed part
of private cost of basic education.

Table 3
Percentages of Average private cost and average social costs of
public primary education in Lagos State 1998-2003

 Average Private Average Social
Year Cost (%) Cost ( %) Total

1998 [??]14,737 (89.46) [??]1,737 (10.54) [??]16,474
1999 [??]16,157 (78.73) [??]4,364 (21.27) [??]20,521
2000 [??]18,837 (74.67) [??]6,389 (25.33) [??]25,226
2001 [??]22,953 (66.22) [??]11,706 (33.78) [??]34,659
2002 [??]26,918 (72.53) [??]10,197 (27.47) [??]37,115
2003 [??]31,764 (68.00) [??]14,953 (32.00) [??]46,717

Source: Survey

(Note: As at the time of writing, the exchange rate is [??]170 to $1)

Table 4: The Amount It Cost (At Current Prices) The
Government To Give A Complete Six Year Primary Education


1998 1/40 (92746828) + 1586 = 2320256.7
1999 2/40 (2318670.7) + 4219 = 120152.54
2000 3/40 (115933.54) + 5899 = 14594.02
2001 4/40 (8695.02) + 11030 = 11116.95
2002 5/40 (0.869502) + 1276.73 = 1276.84
2003 6/40 (0.016303162) + 1444.9 = 1444.90

TOTAL = 2468842.90

Actual Social Cost Per Pupil 24,688.42

Table 5 T-Test of Significant Difference Between The Average Social
Costs And Average Private Cost Of Basic Education In Lagos State.

 T cal. T-test
Variables X N SD Value DF P value Decision

 [??] N [??]

ASC 8224 6 4932
 3.304 10 0.05 2.228 Sig.
APC 19470 6 6723
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Author:Ahunanya, Stella; Akinyemi, Samuel
Publication:International Journal of Education Research (IJER)
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:6NIGR
Date:Jan 1, 2010
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