British aid fails to improve Nigerian schools: report

Reuters News

11/20/2012 12:35:56 PM - Reuters News

By Joe Brock

ABUJA (Reuters) - Britain has failed to make major improvements to schools in Nigeria despite spending millions of pounds on the West African state's education system, a British aid watchdog said on Tuesday.

Britain has spent 102 million pounds ($162 million) in the past seven years on a project to increase the number of girls in school and another that gave advice on how to improve the quality of education - but to little effect, the group said.

"Our review indicates no major improvement in pupil learning...with no likelihood of Nigeria meeting its Millennium Development Goal for primary education," said the report by the Independent Commission for Aid Impact (ICAI).

Western development projects in Africa have been criticized for years as wasteful, ineffective, encouraging dependency and undermined by corruption, though donors say they bring tangible results.

The London-based ICAI, which scrutinizes British overseas aid and reports to parliament, gave Britain's education program in Nigeria its second lowest rating.

It said the schools British money was currently going to were hampered by a lack of good teachers, poor infrastructure and unpredictable state funding.

A spokesman for Britain's Department for International Development said the report team had only visited one percent of Nigeria's schools, most of which were in only one state.

"They did not take into account the most recent evidence of the projects' progress," he said. London plans to spend 126 million pounds in educational aid to Nigeria in the next seven years.

In its last major review of its education projects the department did, however, acknowledge its main education project was not proving cost-effective.

Nigeria, Africa's second biggest economy, earns $70 billion in oil revenues a year but despite growth at over 6 percent annually, almost two-thirds of the population live on less than $1 a day, leaving it 156th on the U.N. Human Development Index of 187 countries.

($1 = 0.6284 British pounds) ($1 = 157.8300 naira)

(Writing by Joe Brock; Editing by Tim Cocks and Silvia Antonioli and Jon Boyle)