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THE PROBLEMS OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT AUTONOMY AND ITS IMPLICATIONS IN THE EFFECTIVE MANAGEMENT OF PRIMARY SCHOOLS
The broad objective of this study is to examine the problems of local government autonomy and its implications in the effective management of Primary schools.The study adopted a qualitative descriptive approach. It implore one of the traditional methods of gathering information, i.e. the secondary sources of data. A sizeable percentage of secondary sources that is used came from published and unpublished works which include materials extracted from: Archives, Newspapers, discussions, Conference papers, Magazines, Internets, Books, and Articles in journals e.t.c. and was analyzed to make the topic under discuss meaningful. Findings from the study reveal that local government has contributed immensely to the functioning of primary education, both in mandatory and concurrent capacities with the state government but basically, The state government had hijacked the primary education from the local government with the instrumentality of UBEC, SUBEB, and LGEA, which are more accountable to the state government, but in the real sense of it local government accommodate the major expenses which include the salaries, allowances and benefits, pension, etc . However due to undue interference from State, lack of fiscal autonomy has incapacitated the Local Government from effective functioning and alienated grassroots people from enjoying social service delivery expected of Local Governments in Nigeria. The study therefore recommends that relationship between the tiers of government especially State-Local government should shift from master/ servant relationship to that of partners in progress in delivery concurrent functions particularly in primary education delivery. More so, Federal Government should increase the consolidated funds to primary education through UBEC from 2% to at least 5% so as for primary education to be accessible to all and be free indeed to all and sundry.
1.1 Background of the Study
In the world over, education has become an essential commodity that determines the level of development or growth of any nation. It has become services that require the involvement of both the private and public sectors. The involvement of governments in education cut across all levels i.e., the primary, secondary and tertiary education. Basically, in Nigeria, local government has constitutional responsibility in primary education, while the state and federal government also has their responsibilities to perform succinctly in all levels of education. The three tiers of governments in Nigeria, needs to adequately address the issue of infrastructure, enrolment, planning and finance of primary education in other to achieve the cardinal objectives of primary education (Igidi, 2009).
Over the years, local and state government has constituted the real actors in Nigeria primary education especially in public service delivery. This is not farfetched from the fact that primary education remains primordial for every citizen, and it must be accessible to every citizens and local government serves as veritable instrument to social and economic development of the people at the grassroots. The 1976 Local Government Reforms in Nigeria gave the three-tier of government the onus for provision and maintenance of primary education. Local government is a government that is formed at the local level. It is a form of community government, so community development is its primary responsibility.The United Nations Office for Public Administration defines Local Government as “a political subdivision of a nation or (in a federal system) State, which is constituted by law and has substantial control of Local affairs including the powers to impose taxes or to exact labour for prescribed purposes. The governing body of such an entity is elected. The 1976 local government reform defines it as “government at local level exercised through representative council established by law to exercise specific powers within defined areas”. These powers should give the Council substantial control over local affairs as well as the staff and institutional and financial powers to initiate and direct the provision of services and to determine and implement projects so as to complement the activities of the State and Federal governments in their areas, and to ensure, through devolution of these functions to these councils and through the active participation of the people and their traditional institutions, that local initiative and response to local needs and conditions are maximized.
Howbeit, the present 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria also stipulated that the Local Government should also embark on the provision and maintenance of primary, adult and vocational education in relation with State government. This is one of the cardinal areas where the state governments relate with local governments in the areas of education as service delivery. Lack of coordination among these tiers of government on strategic planning and budgeting has constituted a complication which most of the time resulted to duplication of functions, especially in providing some amenities to primary schools. ESSPIN (2009) similarly reported that duplication of effort and funding, lack of consensus between the different actors in primary education has brought about the inefficiencies experiencing in the sector.
1.2 Statement of the problem
Fiscal autonomy in local governments is generally believed to be the best tool for effective and efficient service delivery in rural areas of federated countries like Nigeria. In other words, with adequate funding, due process and accountability (devoid of excessive control by higher authorities – federal and or state government), local governments stand to serve best in the provision of basic social amenities like portable water, electricity, education, health-care service, recreational facilities to their respective communities. Despite the fact that the constitution has delegated the above responsibilities to local governments, they have not been able to carry them out effectively due to intervention from other levels of government as stated by Anyanwu (2021). Lack of autonomy, inadequate planning, weak policy execution, insufficient revenue, corruption and mismanagement, a lack of adequate manpower, are all the challenges impeding local government efficiency in service delivery especially at primary education level. On the interference of State Government on Local affair, David (2019) opined that constitutionally, local government have responsibilities to discharge concerning primary education, but practically, it is State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) who manage schools through Local Government Education Authority (LGEA) with little or no consultation to local government council, regardless of their huge contributions to primary education in Nigeria hence the implication on primary education deepens. Although there are scattered literature on Fiscal autonomy and intergovernmental relation non has focused on how lack of autonomy affect local government administration on primary education which necessitated for the study.
1.3 Objective of the Study
The broad objective of this study is to examine the problems of local government autonomy and its implications in the effective management of Primary schools. Specifically, the study seeks:
To examine the role of local government at the grass root level.
To determine the essence of primary education.
To investigate the role of local government education authority in primary education.
To ascertain the challenges of Local Government on Primary Education in Nigeria.
1.4 Research Question
What is the role of local government at the grass root level?
What is the the essence of primary education ?
What is the role of local government education authority in primary education?
What are the challenges of Local Government autonomy on Primary Education in Nigeria?
1.5 Significance of the study
The study will be of immense significant to citizens, statement student and researchers of public administration. It will improve the citizens knowledge on the relationship among the different levels of government and institutions. It will enlighten the general public on the service delivery expected from the local government and empowers them to demand for accountability from the local government when the fail to perform as well as promote transparency at all levels of governance. It will enlighten statesmen and policy makers on the need to revisit the revenue sharing formula in a way that will enable the third tier to solve her many grass root problem especially that of primary education. The study will contribute to the general body of knowledge, giving opportunity for further research in this field as scholars in public administration will use it as reference material.