The study evaluated the impact of education sector reforms on the quality of education in Nigeria, with a focus on Enugu State between 2011 and 2014. Specifically, the study investigated the link between the implementation of special intervention programmes under education sector reforms and enrolment of pupils in primary and junior secondary schools in Enugu State. The study relied on the conceptual propositions deriving from the Marxian instrumentalist theory. Based on primary and secondary data generated through the use of unstructured interview and qualitative method, and analyzed using quantitative and qualitative descriptive analysis, the study demonstrates that the implementation of staff development programmes under education sector reforms failed to enhance the capacity of teaching staff in public primary and junior secondary schools in Enugu State. The study also shows that implementation of institutional support programmes under education sector reforms did not ameliorate infrastructural challenges in public primary and junior secondary schools in Enugu State. Finally, the study indicates that the implementation of special intervention programmes under education sector reforms resulted in insignificant increase in enrolment of pupils in primary and junior secondary schools in Enugu State. Among others, the study recommends that poverty and other cultural and religious barrier that deny children access to quality education should be dealt with.
1.1 Background to the Study
Education is a medium through which the knowledge and skills required for the survival and sustenance of any society is generated (Ekpo & Is’haq, 2014). It is the driving force behind the socio-economic advancement through the production of human capital, who are essential managers of the other sectors of the economy. Education is a life-long process through which man attains moral, emotional, physical and intellectual development which prepares and positions him to be useful to himself and the society into which he is born (Ijaiye & Lawal, 2004). It improves the quality of people’s lives and leads to broad social benefits to individuals and society, at large (Kazeem & Ige, 2010). Education, according to Osundare (2009), is the supreme light-giver, the breezy dawn after a night of suffocating darkness. It clears a path
through the jungle and; it is the compass that takes man ashore from the rough and clueless waters.
At Nigeria’s political independence, education was projected as a social service sector engaged principally in manpower development for the nation and enhancing knowledge for social and economic development. As a result, more educational institutions were established when compared to the era of colonialism. Nigerian educational system was then known for quality and high standard. As noted by Dangana (2011: 38) thus:
From the 1960s to mid-70s, schools in Nigeria (though few) had good infrastructures and qualified staff; all that needed to give quality education were readily provided for the schools. This is because education was seen as pillar that other sectors rest upon.
From late 1970s, however, rot and decay began to characterize the education sector in Nigerian. To arrest the decay and reposition the sector for improved performance, several reforms have been put in place.