N4bn spent on scholarship awards in 2020 —FG­­

THE Federal Government has revealed that N4 billion was expended on scholarship awards in Nigeria in 2020.

Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, who made this known in Abuja, said the money was spent on scholarship awards for Nigerian students both at home and abroad as part of government’s determination to increase access to tertiary education and reward excellence.

He also disclosed that many Nigerian scholars are currently benefitting from the Bilateral Education Agreement (BEA) Nigeria has had with several countries and who have kept faith with their promises in this regard, especially donor partners like Morocco, the Russian Federation, Hungary, China, some Commonwealth countries, Romania and Egypt, who have awarded a number of scholarships to Nigerian students to study in their countries.

Adamu explained that Nigeria had four categories of scholarship awards, namely the Bilateral Education Agreement, the Commonwealth, the Nigerian awards and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) awards.

Nigerian Tribune gathered that Nigeria only has full control over the Nigerian awards and SDGs awards out of the four categories of scholarship awards earlier listed, with the minister explaining that for the Commonwealth and BEA awards, Nigeria only processes is and submit the list of successful candidates to host countries who do the final selection and return the list to the country for dissemination.

He gave the breakdown of the returns for the 2020 BEA awards as follows: Morocco 100, Russia 97, Hungary 50, Romania 10 and Egypt 5. Commonwealth 23 slots while the Nigerian awards are 2,294 slots.

Adamu said further returns were being expected from donor nations in the coming weeks and that candidates would be notified accordingly, adding that the departure schedules for this year have been delayed as a result of the global pandemic, COVID-19.

Meanwhile, Nigeria and Belgium are to sign a Bilateral Educational Agreement (BEA) anytime soon as the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu and Belgium’s Ambassador to Nigeria, His Excellency Onel Bertrand have met to work out specific areas of interest to both countries.

Adamu, who spoke during a courtesy call by the envoy, said the BEA would drive all educational engagements, transactions and processes between the two countries.

He said: “Nigeria is interested in partnering with Belgium in areas such as degrading out-of-school children phenomenon estimated at about 10.1 million, co-operation in technical education, development of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to drive teaching and learning at all levels of educational system in Nigeria.

Acknowledging that the out-of-school children’s issue would be difficult to eradicate, the minister expressed determination that the Nigerian government would do everything humanly possible to reduce the number to the barest minimum.

Adamu told His Excellency that the country has struggled hard to contend and manage the negative impact of COVID-19 in the Nigerian education sector, beginning with the total closure of all learning facilities in March last year to the phased and gradual reopening of schools in August 2020 as well as the putting in place of COVID-19 protocols in all Nigerian learning centres across the country.

Speaking earlier, Belgium Ambassador to Nigeria had His Excellency Onel Bertrand told the minister that his country is ready to assist Nigeria in the areas of high impact technology to support the country’s effort in developing Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to drive the education sector.

In specific terms, he further said “the country is interested in partnering with faculties of agriculture in Nigerian universities to develop modern technologies to improve agricultural productions in the country.”

Already, his Excellency said his country has shown willingness in partnering with University of Ibadan in developing the department of Agriculture.

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