THE new Global Education Monitoring (GEM) report released by the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) has predicted that the country, going by current trends, will only achieve its universal primary education by 2070.
The report also confirmed that inequalities are high in Nigeria as richest males had over 12 years more education to their name than the poorest females.
The report also stated that universal lower secondary education is to be achieved by 2080 while achieving universal upper secondary education would take place in the next century.
Titled, “Education for people and planet,” the report showed that less than 10 per cent of the poorest rural females in the country can read where only six per cent were enrolled in tertiary education in 2014.
The report on Nigeria came even as the UNESCO insisted that there was potential for education to propel progress towards all global goals outlined in the new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (SDGs), noting, however, that education needed a major transformation to fulfill the potential and meet the current challenges facing humanity and the planet.
Emphasising an urgent need for progress in education to speed up, the report noted that based on the current trends, universal primary education in sub-Saharan Africa will be achieved by 2080, universal lower secondary completion by 2089, and universal upper secondary completion by 2099, leaving the region 70 years late for the 2030 SDG deadline.
The report showed the need for education systems to step up attention to environmental concerns and lamented that despite being one of the regions most affected by the effects of environmental change, sub-Saharan Africa has far fewer mentions of sustainable development in its curricula in comparison with Latin America, Europe and North America.
The report emphasised that the new global development agenda called for education ministers and other education actors, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa, to work in collaboration with other sectors to, among other things, prevent 3.5 million child deaths between 2050 and 60 by educating mothers up to lower secondary education by 2030.
It lamented that up to 40 per cent of the global population were taught in a language they did not understand with Sub-Saharan African housing the most countries with the highest degree of linguistic diversity.
The report called for the kind of education systems that protected minority cultures and their associated languages, and which contained vital information about the functioning of ecosystems.
UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova, while commenting on the report, stated that a fundamental change was needed in the way countries thought about education’s role in global development, as it had a catalytic impact on the well-being of individuals and the future of the planet.
“Now, more than ever, education has a responsibility to be in gear with 21st century challenges and aspirations, and foster the right types of values and skills that will lead to sustainable and inclusive growth, and peaceful living together,” Bokova said.
In his contribution, Aaron Benavot, who is Director of the GEM Report, said that there was need for schools and lifelong learning programmes to focus on economic, environmental and social perspectives.
He said, “If we want a greener planet, and sustainable futures for all, we must ask more from our education systems than just a transfer of knowledge.”