Prioritising Education in Nigeria

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Sambo

Stakeholders at the three-day education summit organized by the  Nigeria Economic Summit Group in Abuja, proffer solutions on how to reposition the nation’s education sector to overcome some of its challenges

|  By Vincent Nzemeke  |  Mar. 31, 2014 @ 01:00 GMT

NAMADI Sambo, vice-president, wants stakeholders in the education sector to partner with the federal government in addressing deficiencies in Nigeria’s education system. Speaking at the closing ceremony of the 20th Nigeria Economic Summit in Abuja on Thursday, March 20, Sambo noted that the task of transforming the education sector was enormous and should not be left to government alone. He enjoined state governors, the private sector, civil society organisations, development partners and parents to join hands with the government in actualising the objective of improving the education sector.

He said the present administration was determined to transform the education sector, being a key factor to the aspiration of Nigeria to be among the 20 strongest economies by the year 2020. “Several policy initiatives are being implemented to facilitate and improve adult literacy and school enrolment at all levels of our educational institutions. We intend to develop a skilled workforce which will be able to drive the development of the Nigerian economy, drive change and innovation and ensure that Nigeria attains her rightful place in the comity of nations. This is consistent with our aspiration of becoming one of the 20 largest economies in the world by year 2020,” he said.

While commending the organisers and participants for extensively deliberating on issues that would reposition the education sector, Sambo said: “It is a known fact that the foundation of all successful modern nation-states is a well-articulated educational system which engenders in society, a modern mindset and a culture of learning that produces the right sets of functional skills and values that propel people to achieve their highest potentials.”

The summit which was organised by the Nigerian Economic Summit Group, NESG, in conjunction with the National Planning Commission, had the theme: “Transforming education through partnership for global competiveness.” The three-day event attracted dignitaries from government, business, investment, education and some other sectors interested in developing Nigeria’s educational sector.

Frank Nweke, director-general of the NESG, said the decision to hold the summit on education was taken to address the decline in the sector. “The Nigerian education sector is in dire straits, and requires both public and private sector intervention, if the country is to fulfil its potential as not only a regional powerhouse, but as a global player,” he said.

Nweke
Nweke

Among other things, the summit provided an opportunity for high-level interaction among stakeholders which was aimed at providing ideas on what Nigeria’s education system should be. Some notable speakers and panellists at the summit were Emmanuel Uduaghan, governor of Delta State, Adams Oshiomole, governor of Edo State and Kayode Fayemi, governor of Ekiti State. Others were Pat Obanya, chairman, board of the West African Examination Council, WAEC, Maryam Katagum, a representative from UNESCO; Jim Ovia, former managing director of Zenith Bank, Tony Elumelu, former managing director of United bank for Africa and many others.

At various sessions and panel discussions, participants at the summit highlighted the challenges besetting Nigeria’s education sector and proffered ways of addressing them to make them capable of competing with their counterparts in other countries.

At the opening session on Tuesday, March 18, Nyesom Wike, supervising minister of education, said the federal government had invested N144.7 billion in basic education between 2009 and 2013. The money, the minister said, was given as grants to states to assist them in funding basic education. He added that although basic education was the responsibility of states and local governments, the federal government had, since 2005, been dedicating two percent of its education vote for assistance to the states.

He disclosed that the federal government started supporting the funding of basic education after the revision of the national policy on education as recommended by the Presidential Task Team on Education. According to him, the provision of the Universal Basic Education, UBE, Act 2004, has implications for the education sector, particularly for the provision of universal access to education at primary and junior secondary schools. “The impact of these investments has been seen in the improved quality pre-service teacher training activities. The in-service teachers’ upgrading and training programmes have also made impact in the quality of teachers in the basic education schools,” he said.

Wike, however, stated that the major challenge of basic education in the country was inadequacy of funds available for curriculum and instructional material development activities.

In another keynote address on the second day of the summit, Foluso Phillips, chairman, NESG, urged the federal government to ensure that the report on ongoing forensic investigation into the missing oil funds at Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, was made public. Philip commended the government for ordering the investigation, and advised it to ensure that all persons involved in the controversy were made accountable.

“We as a country are not doing enough to stamp out the corruption. We are not pursuing the issue of punishing those who engage in corrupt practice. We must place emphasis on building institution, systems and processes which provide more enduring and sustainable war against corruption,” he said.

In his address, Bashir Yuguda, supervising minister of the national planning commission, said the summit would set an agenda for “presidential dialogue” on national issues. Yuguda said the summit would go a long way in transforming the nation’s education system.

Jim O’Neil, a British professor of economics, delivered the keynote address titled ‘From BRICS to MINT: The centrality of education and learning to nation-building and economic development,” at the summit.

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