FG committed to enforcement of 9-year free, compulsory education ― Osinbajo

Vice-President Professor Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, has reaffirmed the commitment of the Federal Government to full enforcement of the nine-year free and compulsory basic education in Nigeria.

He said that it is now a criminal offence for parents to deny their children access to education as stipulated in the Universal Basic Education (UBE) Act.

Osinbajo spoke on Thursday in Abuja while declaring open the 2019 Nigeria’s Annual Education Conference with the theme “Education for Sustainable Livelihood: A System’s Approach to Strengthening the Sector for Productivity and Global Competitiveness”.

He noted that Nigeria has one of the largest young population in the world and stands the chance of becoming a most developed country in Africa and most advanced economy in the world giving the potentials and natural endowment of the nation.

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He said: “We are in that fortunate position because of our natural endowments. The incredible opportunities in technology and innovation of our people to redefine our economy towards growth and the opportunities to leapfrog”.

He, however, said this ambition could not be easily realisable when a large population of the children were out-of-school, dearth and poor quality of teachers and dilapidated infrastructure as a result of decades of neglect of the education sector.

“But we are confronted with a lot of challenges. A large population of children are out of school and a huge percentage of that are girls. Then we have the challenge of the dearth of teachers and poor quality of teachers in addition to years of neglect of education,” he said.

He noted that the challenges of extreme poverty and poor educational outcome were directly connected, stressing that one of the policy thrust of the current administration was to reduce extreme poverty in the country.

He disclosed that the Federal Government was working towards ensuring 100 per cent Broadband coverage in Nigeria by 2023, noting that this was a major pillar of President Muhammadu Buhari second-term agenda.

The Vice-President noted that if the digital infrastructure in Nigeria is improved, it would help a great deal in making education available to children who are almost at the risk of ending up becoming uneducated.

“While implementing the N-power programme, we were able to deploy instructional materials to volunteers via their electronic tablets; at least half of them have it and we have an open portal where they can log into to get instructional materials,” he said.

He added that to encourage the Nigerian children to stay put in school, the Federal Government has proposed that those would-be-volunteers in N-power programme must show evidence of completion of the first three years of their secondary school education in order to participate in the non-graduate apprenticeship scheme.

Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu in his remark, said the Federal Government was concerned about the over 10.2 million out-of-school children phenomenon in Nigeria, saying the current administration was committed to eradicating the menace in line with Education 2030 Agenda.

Adamu who was represented by the Minister of State for Education, Senator Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba said there was the need to come up with better strategies to increase teachers’ capacity towards achieving sustainable development goals by 2030.

He said the Federal Government has put mechanisms in place to strengthen teacher’s education through its 10 pillars of the Ministerial Strategic Plan.

He, however, lamented that the challenge has been the problem of insurgency, noting that since the inception of insurgency in North-East Nigeria, education has been under constant and systematic attack resulting in the killing of both learners and teachers and destruction of education facilities.

He said: “Over 2,295 teachers have been killed and 19,000 displaced in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa States in the last nine years.

“An estimated 1,500 schools have been destroyed since 2014, with over 1,280 casualties among teachers and students. The crisis has further devastated the education system as children, teachers and schools are in the front line of the conflict,” he said.

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