AN IMPACT ASSESSMENT OF FEDERAL GOVERNMENT’S EDUCATIONAL POLICIES ON POVERTY REDUCTION IN EKITI STATE
1.1 Background to the Study
Poverty is a global phenomenon which affects continents, nations, and peoples differently. It afflicts people in various depths and levels, at different times and phases of existence and development. As a matter of fact, there is no nation or people that can be said to be absolutely free from poverty. What is markedly different is the intensity, depth or prevalence of this malaise. Nations in Sub-Sahara Africa, South Asia and Latin America reflect the highest level of poverty, and consequently the lowest level of socio-economic development. These regions equally have an attendant higher level of social insecurity, violence, unrest, crime, poor capacity utilization and generally unacceptable low standard of living.
As it has been mentioned above, poverty manifests itself in different and various dimensions, and hence is susceptible to varying definitions and understanding. The Central Bank of Nigeria (1999) views poverty as “a state where an individual is not able to cater adequately for his or her basic needs of food, clothing and shelter, is unable to meet social and economic obligations, lacks gainful employment, skills, assets and self esteem and has limited access to social and economic infrastructure such as education, health, portable water and sanitation; and consequently, has limited chance of advancing his or her welfare to the limit of his /her potentialities”. Whereas this definition of poverty is deductive, the World Bank (2000) on the other hand utilized inductive approach to uncover various dimensions of poverty such as well-being, psychological, basic infrastructure, illness and assets. One of such definitions is “the lack of what is necessary for material well-being… especially food, but also housing, land, and other assets. In other words, poverty is the lack of multiple resources that leads to hunger and physical deprivation”. Another of such definitions is “the lack of voice, power, and independence that subjects them to exploitation. Their poverty leaves them vulnerable to rudeness, humiliation, and inhumane treatment by both private and public agents of state and the hierarchy of society from whom they seek help”.
Nigeria, ranked among the 25 poorest countries in the world, started its independent nationhood with a poverty level of hereby 15% of its population in 1960, and is today struggling to bring it down from about 70% of its current teeming population of about 140 million people (2006 estimates). Of the number of the poverty stricken people, about 73% is concentrated in the rural areas where illiteracy prevalence is high, portable water and health facilities are rarely available, road and electricity infrastructures are either unavailable ill-managed, or under utilized. The World Bank and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)’s 2000 Human Development Index (HDI) of 0.461 aptly indicates the deplorable state of the nation’s level of poverty and low human development. This is in spite of the fact the country is richly endowed with all kinds of water, agricultural and mineral resources. In fact Nigeria’s proportion of the poor has doubled over the last two decades, during which time the country received well over $300 billion in oil and gas revenue. Paradoxically, Nigeria’s level of revenue and endowment are in opposite direction with her poverty level. For instance, according to World Bank, and UNDP (2001) Statistics, Nigeria which impressively ranked 6th and 7th in petroleum export and petroleum production respectively, is ranked 194th in Gross National Product (GDP) per capita and is unenviably classified as the 25th poorest nation in the world.