There is a long rivalry between the All Progressives Congress and the People’s Democratic Party in Ekiti state, often finding expression in claims about the state’s quality of education.
State governor Kayode Fayemi, who is serving his second term, added fuel to the fire when he claimed that under his previous leadership, school enrolment rose to 96%, only to fall to the “least in the South West” by 2018, under PDP rule.
Fayemi said he was once again reversing the trend, bringing enrolment above 75% because of the introduction of free education. But his claims are at best unproven and at worst entirely incorrect.
The quality of education in Nigeria’s southwestern Ekiti state is often disputed by the ruling All Progressives Congress and the opposition, with each side claiming to have made more gains than the other.
The state’s governor was Kayode Fayemi of the APC from 2010 to 2014. He was then toppled in elections by long-time political rival Ayo Fayose of the People’s Democratic Party, but has again been governor since October 2018.
Speaking at a school reunion in February 2020, Fayemi played up his administration’s education record during his two terms in office.
We fact-checked three of his claims.
Fayemi’s first term ended in June 2014. Africa Check asked the governor if he had been correctly quoted, whether he had evidence for the claim and if he was referring to primary or secondary schools.
We also asked if he was referring only to public schools. His office and the state bureau of statistics are yet to respond. We will update this report should they do so.
A reliable source for school enrolment across states is Nigeria’s digest of education statistics, Matthews Nganjiozor told Africa Check. He heads the Nigeria Education Management Information System at the federal education ministry. The digest had data for 2014 to 2017, he said.
Enrolment in primary schools formed “the basis for the [secondary school] levels”, Nganjiozor said. “If there is no primary school, junior and senior secondary schools will not mean much.”
In Nigeria, primary school covers grades one through six, and junior secondary school grades seven through nine. The last three years of school, grades 10 to 12, make up the senior secondary phase.
The digest of education statistics has data such as the gross enrolment rate in primary schools by state and gender.
It shows that the gross primary school enrolment rate for Ekiti state was 23.83% in the 2013/14 academic year, and 29.58% in 2014/15.
The two figures are both far less than the 96% Fayemi claimed. (Note: The digest does not have enough data to work out a net enrolment rate. But as explained in the following claim, the gross enrolment rate tends to be higher than the net rate. This means the net rate would be even lower, and Fayemi’s claim still incorrect).
The digest of education statistics does not have data for 2018. This would only be available in April 2020, Matthews Nganjiozor, who oversees the information system at the federal ministry of education, told Africa Check.
Oriyomi Ogunwale told us that the most recent data on school enrolment in Nigeria is from the Universal Basic Education Commission. He is the project lead at Eduplana, an organisation focused on education in Nigeria.
The commission’s data for 2018 covers several indicators for both public and private primary and junior secondary schools.
Two indicators can be used to deduce enrolment:
The net enrolment rate, or the enrolment of the official age group for a given level of education expressed as a percentage of the corresponding population.
The gross enrolment rate, or the total enrolment in a specific level of education, regardless of age.
Ogunwale said the gross enrolment rate is usually higher than the net rate because there are often pupils outside the official age range at every level of education.
The net rate is preferable because it has to do with pupils who are within the official age range of a given level of education, Ogunwale said.
The commission’s data gave the official range for primary school as ages 6 to 11. (Note: This is slightly different from the 6 to 12 years official primary school age stated in the Compulsory, Free Universal Basic Education Act of 2004.)
Ekiti had highest rate in region, not lowest
The data shows 219,766 pupils were enrolled in primary schools in the state in 2018 but only 191,625 were between age 6 and 11. In that year, the state had an estimated population of 300,111 children between ages 6 and 11.
This means the state’s net enrolment rate in 2018 was 63.9%, the highest in the South West region. Ondo state had a 62.7% net enrolment rate, Oyo state 62.1% and Ogun state 61.2%. The economic capital Lagos reported 58.8% and Osun state 56.9%.
For net enrolment rate at junior secondary school level, Ekiti was third with 37.8%, behind Ondo’s 49.4% and Ogun’s 44.7% in 2018.
This means that contrary to Fayemi’s claim, Ekiti was not “the least in the South West” for school enrolment in 2018, at both the primary and junior secondary levels.
‘Enrolment is not attendance’
Ogunwale also told Africa Check that enrolment may not translate to attendance.
“While enrolment is about the number of pupils registered in school in a given academic year, attendance is about how many of the enrolled pupils actually attend classes,” he said.
Fayemi has not responded to our enquiry about what the school enrolment was before the more than 75% he claims to have raised it to. Official data shows it was 63.9% at primary level, and 37.8% at junior secondary level for 2018.
Gap between law and reality
Fayemi attributed the increase in enrolment to the provision of free education. In October 2018, he signed an executive order that abolished an education development levy introduced by his predecessor in 2015.
This made education free – previously each primary school pupil was paying 500 naira per term and double this at secondary school level.
But the governor cannot claim outright credit for state policies that seek to punish parents of school-age children who are found on the streets.
Akinwunmi Akowonjo is a development consultant who coordinated the Education Partnership Centre’s learning academy. He told Africa Check that Fayemi's claim echoes the universal basic education and child right laws at the national level.
“If governor Fayemi’s administration has come up with a policy that compels parents to send their children to school, then it is merely the state government’s way of implementing the provisions of the universal basic education and child rights laws,” Akowonjo said.
Free education in Nigeria ‘a fallacy’
The country's universal basic education law prescribes that all children must have access to primary and junior secondary education.
“The truth is there aren’t enough classrooms, desks or teachers to take care of them,” Ijaiya said.
And while the government may pay tuition and provide textbooks, parents still have to buy uniforms and feed children before sending them to school, Ijaiya said. This means education is not totally free.