MINISTER of Education Abuja, Malam Adamu Adamu has attributed Nigeria’s recent poor performance in meeting its commitments to the Millennium Development Goals, MDGs,to failure of the country’s basic education system to deliver according to expectations.
This was as he said the country’s high rate of out-of-school children was “occasioned by lack of access to basic education, poor infrastructure, lack of adequate and qualified teachers as well as beliefs that are alien to both our culture and religion.”
The minister,who spoke, Thursday,in Abuja,at a technical meeting to develop new strategies that would enhance effective monitoring and successful implementation of Better Education Service Delivery for All,BESDA Programme,noted that,”Basic education as we are all aware constitutes the foundation of the educational system and has to be given all the attention it deserves.”
Represented by the Minister of State for Education,Emeka Nwajiuba,Adamu regrettad that,” But from what has been happening since independence, it is clear that the system at that level has failed to deliver according to expectations.”
“The recent poor performance in meeting our commitments to the Millennium Development Goals adequately illustrates the extent of such a failure.
“This is coupled with the fact that despite the recent efforts by the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration to address the menace of the Out-of-School Children, Nigeria is still battling with one of the highest number of Out-of-School Children in sub-Saharan Africa.
“The situation is occasioned by lack of access to basic education, poor infrastructure, lack of adequate and qualified teachers as well as beliefs that are alien to both our culture and religion,”he said.
According to the minister,”It is order to address these challenges that upon assumption of office, I sought the approval of President Muhammadu Buhari to source for funds from the World Bank of which the President graciously granted.”
” The effort is what gave birth to the Better Education Service Delivery for All, BESDA progamme,”he said.
Reminding that”the programme is funded by a 611 million Dollars which is a credit to the Federal Government but grant to states”, the minister explained that:” The cardinal objective of this programme is to increase equitable access for Out-of-School Children, improve literacy and strengthen accountability for results at the basic education level in the focus states. “
“The programme focuses on 17 States in the country which includes the entire 13 States of the North West and North East geo-political zones, Niger, Oyo, Ebonyi and Rivers States. The selection of these States was based on the prevalence of the number of out-of-school children,”he further explained.
He said “since inception, the BESDA Programme has successfully enrolled 924,590 out of the previous figures of 10,193,918 out-of school children in Nigeria”, adding:” I can say authoritatively that the figures have dropped significantly to 9,269,328.”
Noting that “the development of any nation is hinged on the quality of the educational system”,Adamu said:”No nation can therefore, rise above the standard and quality of its educational system.”
“If education is weak and dysfunctional, the development of the society will also be weak and dysfunctional. Little wonder, it is often said that to destroy a society, all you need to do is to destroy the education,”he emphasized.
He spoke further:”If the fore going is anything, the strong message for us today is that the entire societal civilization is at risk and in great peril when access to proper and quality education is denied the citizens. Such denial can lead to a number of undesirable consequences, the most pernicious of which are value erosion and character failure in the young ones who are expected to become leaders tomorrow.
“The signs of such value erosion and character failure are already there for us to see. There is indeed enough warning for our nation that the enemy is already at the gate. The advancement of this enemy must therefore, be checked now.
“Education alone offers the society the tool to confront the enemy, defeat its armies and bring about the required institutional change. Yes, education offers us the way out of current vicious circle of poverty, insecurity, youth unemployment and restiveness as well as national underdevelopment.”
He regretted that while the government was making efforts to reduce the numbers of out-of-school children,”more and more children are joining the queue.”
” There is therefore the need to intensify our efforts towards addressing the challenges of the out-of school children by ensuring that they are in school and learning. It is in view of this that we are gathered here today to brainstorm and come up with new strategies that would ensure effective implementation as well as monitoring and evaluation of the BESDA programme,”he explained.
Earlier, the Executive Secretary, National Senior Secondary Education Commission,Dr Benjamin Abakpa,said “senior secondary education needs better attention and greater focus by government and society at large.”
According to him,”For long, senior secondary schools have been challenged by poor infrastructure and weak learning outcomes.”
“Amongst other numerous challenges impacting our senior secondary schools are poor laboratory and library facilities; and low quality learning outcome due to lack of in-depth oversight by a properly constituted agency to regulate it’s activities,”he said
While noting that,”The deleterious effect of these neglected areas of learning in our senior secondary schools is that students who enroll in our universities are ill prepared to cope with the demands and rigour of tertiary training in those relevant areas”,Abakpa said:”And thus, you have a carryover of all these defects right into their professional lives, long after they had graduated from universities or other tertiary institution of learning.”