Nigeria is a signatory to many international treaties aimed at ensuring that children’s fundamental right to education is fulfilled. Despite these commitments, and despite the difficulty of obtaining accurate, up-to-date figures estimated that 1 in 5 children of primary school age who are out of school are currently in Nigeria.
In addition, in Nigeria, two-thirds of children in the poorest households are not in school and almost 90 per cent of them will probably never enroll. In order to respond to the situation and achieve commitments made at national and international level, the federal and state governments have made several efforts to invest in the education sector. However, in recent years, the country has witnessed a gradual degradation in infrastructure, manpower development and access to qualitative education.
Meanwhile, federal government spending on education in Nigeria is amongst the lowest in the world, and although at state level investment in the education sector may reach, or at times even exceed globally agreed benchmarks of 4-6% of GDP and 15- 20% of national budget needed to achieve SDG4 at federal level the situation is much less encouraging with under 2%3 of GDP and 7.41% of national budget allocated to the sector.
In addition, even where state-level allocations may reach or exceed benchmark targets, the ongoing challenges with poor quality service provision and the vast numbers of children who remain out of school as well a lack of drawdown of UBEC matching funds, indicate that amounts are either insufficient to meet real needs and/or inadequately managed or utilised.
According to the Permanent Secretary, in 2018 only 24 out of 36 states accessed Universal Basic Education (UBE) funds in full 4 . In the meantime, given the failure of the state to finance a quality public education system that can adequately cope with the huge demand, there has been a growing interest in the expansion of private providers of education to fill the gap. This is particularly the case in States such as Lagos, FCT, Kano, Rivers, just to mention a few.
The Breaking Barriers Project The Breaking Barriers project is a four year, multi country project funded by the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad), which is being implemented in Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria and Tanzania. All 4 countries are working towards a common goal, which is to ensure that all children, especially girls and marginalised children, have access to free, quality, publicly-funded, inclusive public education.
The project’s objectives are structured around ActionAid’s 4S framework for education financing, emphasising the need to ensure that:
- Governments take actions to increase the SIZE of national budgets by raising fair tax
- Governments take actions to increase the SHARE of funds allocated to and spent on free, quality, inclusive public education
- Public education policies, systems and expenditure are SENSITIVE to the rights of girls and marginalised children
- A strong active movement of community and civil society structures effectively SCRUTINISE education budgets and expenditure and hold governments to account for the provision of free, quality, inclusive public education especially for girls and marginalised children.
Some of the barriers that the project aims to address include discrimination, inadequate financing and the proliferation of private, low-cost schools.
Following a series of studies conducted by the project team and others, ActionAid Nigeria is interested in building on existing research and gathering more evidence to support effective advocacy and campaigning for free, quality, inclusive public education - especially for girls, children with disabilities and other marginalised groups.
The research will focus on the role of private sector actors in education, particularly on the partnership between Bridge International Academy and a number of state governments in Nigeria. A recent study conducted by ActionAid International in collaboration with the Centre for Education & International Development, University College London Institute of Education entitled Private education and compliance with the Abidjan Principles: the case of Nigeria, found an increase in the role being played by private sector actors, including charitable foundations and international for-profit companies, in basic education in partnership with state and local governments.
The research also showed that this arrangement has led to the establishment of new types of private schools in Nigeria, stating that: “In cities like Lagos, with a large low-cost private school sector, a second type of international school chain has emerged serving low-income communities. An example of this is Bridge International Academies (BIA)…” (ActionAid, 2020).
BIA began operating in Lagos State in 2015, supported by a £3.45 million grant from the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID), and now also operates in Kano, Edo and Osun States. The model differs in each of the states and now includes both low-cost private schools and teacher training services in partnership with state governments. However, a number of studies raise concerns about the effect of the BIA model on intersecting inequalities drawing attention to the ways in which children from the most marginalised backgrounds are unable to access such schools (Harma, 2017; Unterhalter, Ibrahim and Robinson, 2018).
- The purpose of this research is to build on the findings of the above-mentioned studies to further examine the implications of partnerships between Eko Excel/Edo Best and state governments, with a focus on Lagos and Edo States. The Lagos State government recently introduced the Eko Excel (Excellence in Child Education and Learning) and has commenced training of teachers on the use of new technologies to boost learning outcomes in partnership with BIA.
- Similarly, the Edo State government has recently initiated the “Edo Best” programme in partnership with BIA. The study will be guided by the Abidjan Principles on the human rights obligations of States to provide public education and to regulate private involvement in education, adopted in 2019 (particularly Guiding Principles (GP); GP 23-28 on the right to equality and non-discrimination in education; GP 34-41 on the financing of public education, GP 39; and GPs 47-57 on regulations, GP 58-59 on non-instructional, and 64-74 on PPPs and other particular general principles on inequalities.
- The study is expected to provide evidence on the extent to which partnerships between BIA and state governments in Nigeria enhance or diminish the right to free, quality basic education with a particular focus on gender inequality and other socioeconomic inequalities especially disability.
- Given the project’s focus on sustainable public financing for public service delivery (through fair and progressive tax) the study should also consider the prevailing tax policies and practices at Federal/State level and the extent to which amounts currently lost through regressive taxation/evasion/harmful tax incentives could contribute to better financing of public education assessed against GP 34 - 37.
- This research will be used to improve understanding of the situation and to support advocacy for the effective regulation of all private education providers and the adequate financing of free, quality, public education.
- Finally, the analysis will result in a series of concrete recommendations for improved legislation, implementation and practices to ensure national compliance with the right to education as unpacked in the Abidjan Principles, and other additional domestic requirements at the State or federal level.
Areas of Enquiry
The following broad areas of enquiry are expected to support the development of a more detailed research framework:
- What is the current legal and policy framework within which Eko Excel/Edo Best operates?
- What other legal and policy framework exist for privatization of education in the state?
- What are the labour conditions of the teachers and staff involved in the programs, as assessed against labour standards in the State (including regarding minimum salary and working hours), and international standards?
- What are the teaching conditions, as compared to the right to education requirement as in GP 55 and General Principles?
- What is the nature and focus of Eko Excel/Edo Best training? How is learning understood and conceptualised?
- Are marginalised children (e.g. from rural, semi-rural areas, the poorest, children with disability) benefiting/served?
- Which public schools and where are they located? • What attention is given to the diverse needs of learners?
- Does the Eko Excel/Edo Best programme result in any cost for learners, directly or indirectly? If so, what is the impact on them?
- Looking at the broader systemic level, does the programme help to reduce inequalities and segregation, or does it contribute to further stratification in the education system?
- What is the economic impact of Covid19 on the Eko Excel/Edo Best for teachers vis-à-vis those employed by government? Are they receiving full salaries, etc.?
- Who are the main actors involved in the partnership?
- What is the nature and duration of the contract between Eko Excel/Edo Best and the State government? • What are the terms of the contract?
- What is the rationale for this/these contracts (e.g. why is private provision seen to be better than State provision)? Does it meet the requirements under GP 65 and General Principle?
- What was the process for the contract, as measured against GP 66? In particular, was it participatory, transparent, and non-discriminatory?
- Is the company behaving in a transparent and accountable way, in full respect of all the laws?
- How is the contract operationalised, as compared against GP 67 – 72? In particular, is there an adequate process for impact assessment (GP 71), and does the company share data and information (GP 72)?
- How transparent is the programme, including its costs, modalities, and impacts?
- What is the total cost of the programme?
- What level of financial support is being provided by the State and any donor to private education providers as a share of the total education budget, and compared to the public sector? And how does it compare to other States in Nigeria?
- How cost effective is the model of the partnership? This demand measuring “effectiveness” looking at the process/rationale for the expenses and to compare them to other examples of education financing models.
- To what extent do prevailing tax policies/practice at Federal/State level impact on Federal/State’s capacity to raise the funds needed to adequately finance public education
- Assess the impact of the tax policies/practices on poor children’s access to quality public education.
- What amounts are currently lost (e.g. to tax incentives, obsolete/regressive tax policies) and how do these compare to current budget allocations at Federal/State levels to education?
- What is the profit level of Bridge, their tax payment, and due diligence in that respect?
- National and State level education policymakers, decision-makers and authorities (e.g. Ministry of Education, Ministry of Finance, Revenue Authorities)
- National and State-level Civil Society representatives including representatives of Teachers including Union members, Education Coalition members, School Based Management Committees/Parent-Teacher Forum
- INGOs working in the education sector
- Other researchers and academics working in the field of education
Approach and Methodology
The study will involve a mixed methods approach and employ the same framework and methodology in both states (staggered to start with the desk-based research now and then do the primary data collection later when schools are open:
- A desk-based review of existing literature and current policy on private investments in education in Nigeria;
- A questionnaire survey of key stakeholders (e.g. teachers, students, parents, government and union officials) in Edo and Lagos state;
- School-based observations where training has taken place and technology is in use to gauge the impact of the approach;
- Key informant interviews with stakeholders, both state and non-state actors;
- Focus group discussions with children and parents, SBMC and PTA where necessary.
- Investigation around teacher training, type of teachers (including those with disability), staff contracts, upgrading of contract after training, contracts with the Government etc.
Several studies have already been carried on financing of education and the impact of privatisation (including with a focus on BIA) in a range of countries including Nigeria. This documentation will be reviewed carefully by the consultant/s to build on existing knowledge and evidence in the context of the specific issues outlined in this TOR.
- Inception report outlining the proposed approach and methodology including research framework, questions and tools to guide the study.
- One national report with separate sections for each state covered during the study which will be used to build understanding and support advocacy at local, national and international levels. The report will include findings and recommendations
- One policy brief that summarises key issues and recommendations in order to better engage duty bearers on the findings and inform practical actions.
Roles and Responsibilities
- This piece of research will be conducted in collaboration between ActionAid International and ActionAid Nigeria and led by the successful research consultant/s. Each organisation’s specific roles and responsibilities within the overall process as well as their contributions in terms of technical expertise and financial support are outlined in detail below:
ActionAid Nigeria in collaboration with the consultant and ActionAid International will:
- Contribute to the development of the research framework, questions and tools
- Provide feedback on draft documents
- Coordinate with country organisational staff and education coalition members
- Support with the identification of key respondents and, where necessary access to implementation areas
- Coordinate design and layout of final reports
- Support the dissemination of the findings
- Cover the costs of research as well as the cost required to produce the report and policy brief
- Contribute to the development of the research framework, questions, tools
- Provide feedback on draft documents
- Support the dissemination of findings
- Contribute to the design and layout of research product
- Produce a brief inception report confirming understanding of the task and outlining methodology, time-frame and budget
- Work with ActionAid Nigeria and ActionAid International to design the research framework, questions, methods and tools
- Draft the overall report using agreed research framework, questions, methods and tools (submit at least 2 drafts before finalization)
- Draft the policy brief based on key findings and recommendations from the main report
- The research will commerce in September 2020 and this will include development of tools, field work, reporting as well as series of meetings with ActionAid.
Selection Criteria for the Consultant
- ActionAid Nigeria is looking for a qualified and experienced consultant, or team of consultants with a background in education (in particular issues related to education financing, budget analysis, tax policy analysis, Public-Private Partnerships and the Bridge Model), knowledge of the Abidjan Principles and experience of social research, who will be able to lead on this research initiative.
- Advanced Degree in the field of Education, Human Rights, Social Research, Economics or another relevant Social Science subject.
- Understanding of issues related to human rights, especially the right to education as well as current discourse around education financing (including the role of tax in public sector financing), and Public Private Partnerships.
- Experience of secondary research and legal/policy analysis (especially tax policy analysis) and proven track record of relevant research focusing on the above-listed issues in one or more of the project countries
- Experience of primary data collection and analysis including through participatory methods
- Experience of working with international NGOs, national education coalitions and organizations campaigning for tax justice
- The ability to communicate clearly with a wide range of audiences and stakeholders and an understanding of how to communicate complex issues in simple, compelling language
- Fluency in written and spoken English and the ability to write clearly and concisely for diverse audiences.
- Knowledge of languages spoken in Edo and Lagos states will be an added advantage.
- Experience of working with ActionAid.
- Understanding of/familiarity with human rights-based approach to research and advocacy on education financing, tax and privatisation.
- A team that is able to draw on researchers, research institutes or postgraduate students based in Nigeria.
Candidate selection will be based on the following criteria:
- The ability to respond to and meet the essential and desirable specifications outlined in this term of reference.
- Demonstrated capacity to undertake the type of services sought.
- Relevant academic and professional qualifications and experience.
- Proposed budget and schedule.