Nigeria lost 34% of its education and health expenditures to absenteeism — World Bank

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According to the World Bank, absenteeism can have a 34 percent impact on public expenditure in the health and education sectors combined.

This was revealed in the most recent World Bank Human Capital Public Expenditure and Institutional Review for Nigeria.

The report found that the country’s public expenditure on health and education was inadequate.

The World Bank said, “The level of absenteeism of health workers and teachers is a critical factor affecting the quality of spending in education and health in Nigeria.

“Due to the absenteeism of teachers and health workers, up to 13 per cent of public expenditures in education and 21 per cent of public expenditures in health are lost. According to the multilateral lender, leakage in Lagos State is as high as $6.7m from the health and education systems ($3.6m from the education and $3.1m from the health systems) in 2021.”

According to the World Bank’s Service Delivery Indicator Survey, on average, 13.7% of instructors were absent from school.

“Of those at school, about a fifth (19.1 per cent) were not in the class teaching and when they are in school, they are found to spend an average of 20.7 per cent of their time on non-teaching activities. When combined, the results indicate that teachers spend less than three-quarters of the scheduled teaching time on actual teaching activities,” it noted.

According to the survey, a third (31.7%) of the randomly selected health providers who were meant to be at work were absent during an unexpected visit.

The percentage of absenteeism was discovered to be greater in urban facilities at 34.2 per cent, compared to 30.0 per cent in rural facilities.

The rate of absence also varied by type of health facility, with health centres having the highest overall absence rate at 33.6% and health posts having the lowest at 24.3%.

According to the research, nurses had the highest absence rates at 40.9%.

It was anticipated that Nigeria’s GDP might be up to 2.77 times larger if comprehensive education and health care were provided, “To put this into perspective, this represents an additional growth of approximately 2.06 percentage points annually over the next five decades.”

The bank reported that Nigeria had the biggest number of out-of-school children in the world, the largest number of children under five who died every year internationally, and the largest contributor to the deaths of mothers in the world (34 per cent).

“Globally, one in every six deaths of children under five is in Nigeria, and one of every 12 children out of school globally is Nigerian as well. More than 844,000 children die every year in Nigeria before they reach their fifth birthday. This constitutes the largest number registered anywhere in the world. In Nigeria, a child who starts school at age four can expect to complete only five years of education when factoring in what the child learns,” the report indicated.

It indicated that overall public spending, at merely 12 per cent of gross domestic product, fell below the threshold necessary to finance those public services.

It noted that it was lower than the Sub-Saharan African average of 17.2 per cent.

“Over the past five years, Nigeria’s health and education expenditure has fluctuated between 10 and 12 per cent of GDP when measured against international standards, it becomes evident that this level of investment is insufficient for delivering adequate essential public services.

“At $23 and $15 per capita, public expenditure on education and health in Nigeria, respectively, is inadequate by any standard. Of the $23 per capita spending on education, states spend $14 and the remainder is spent by the Federal Government.

Similarly, states spend US$8.5 out of the $15 per capita health care spending. This level of spending compares poorly to Nigeria’s peers. “It is far more inadequate given the need to tackle significant issues such as high rates of out-of-school children and child mortality,” the report stated.

To address the situation, the World Bank advised that the Nigerian government invest at least $1,000 per primary school student to reduce the country’s poverty rate.

“Considering its stage of economic development, Nigeria should ideally be investing at least $1,000 per primary student, which means increasing the per-student expenditure sixfold.

“Moreover, with a significant number of children not attending school and a rapidly growing school-age population, by 2030 Nigeria would need to increase its investment in basic education ninefold from its 2022 level to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 4.”