World Bank Report: Absenteeism Impacts Nigeria’s Health and Education Spending, Potential Losses Up to 34%

World Bank Report Reveals High Absenteeism’s Impact on Nigeria’s Public Expenditure in Health and Education

According to the latest Human Capital Public Expenditure and Institutional Review by the World Bank, absenteeism among health workers and teachers in Nigeria is significantly impacting public expenditure in the health and education sectors, with potential losses reaching up to 34 percent.

The report highlighted that Nigeria’s investment in these critical sectors falls below international standards, with substantial leakage observed. In Lagos State alone, losses amounted to $6.7 million in 2021, stemming from absenteeism in health ($3.1 million) and education ($3.6 million) systems.

Key findings from the World Bank’s Service Delivery Indicator Survey underscored the severity of the issue. It revealed that on average, 13.7 percent of teachers were absent from school, with nearly a fifth (19.1 percent) not teaching during scheduled hours. Similarly, a third (31.7 percent) of health providers were absent during unannounced visits, with higher rates in urban facilities (34.2 percent) compared to rural ones (30.0 percent).

The report emphasized that addressing absenteeism could significantly enhance economic outcomes, potentially increasing Nigeria’s economy by 2.06 percentage points annually over the next five decades if comprehensive education and health services were provided.

Nigeria, despite having the largest number of out-of-school children globally and high maternal and child mortality rates, spends only 12 percent of GDP on public services, below the Sub-Saharan African average of 17.2 percent. The report recommended increasing per capita spending on education and health to address these critical challenges and meet Sustainable Development Goal 4 targets by 2030.

The World Bank urged the Nigerian government to ramp up investments, suggesting a sixfold increase in per-student expenditure in primary education and a ninefold increase by 2030 to achieve SDG4, which focuses on quality education.

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