The Federal Government has admitted that the education sector in the country is facing enormous challenges but insisted that the quantum spending on education in Nigeria is far above the stated 26 per cent recommended budgetary allocation to the sector.
This came as the United Nations (UN), has tasked Nigeria to ensure that educational institutions are made safe and affordable for children in the country.
Minister of State for Education, Goodluck Opiah, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Education, Andrew David Adejo and Mamadou Lamine Sow Senior Education Advisor, United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), spoke on Thursday in Abuja at Transforming Education Summit: Second National Consultation organised by National Universities Commission (NUC) in partnership with UNICEF and UNESCO.
Opiah in his brief remark at the event, which is a pre-UN Summit, acknowledged that the challenges facing the education sector in the country were enormous, requiring all hands to be on deck to address.
He commended the contributions of the global stakeholders, especially, the World Bank, and United Nations agencies including the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and UNESCO among others, to the development of the education sector in Nigeria, adding that the summit was the right step in the right direction.
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Following disruptions in the education sector by the COVID-19 pandemic, the United Nations Secretary-General is convening a Transforming Education Summit (TES) in September 2022 aimed at mobilising action, ambition, solidarity, and solutions to transform education between now and 2030.
The Permanent Secretary, Adejo in his presentation entitled “Transforming Education in Nigeria: TES and beyond, said the neglect of the sector over time led to the unimaginable crisis being witnessed currently.
He disclosed that the quantum spending on the education sector in Nigeria, was far above the recommended 26 per cent by UNESCO, for countries to allocate between 15 to 26 per cent of their national budget to education.
Adejo argued that education is on the concurrent list with responsibility for basic education largely in the hands of State Governments, while the Federal Government provides intervention through Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) among others, saying the spending by States and intervention at the Federal level are not reflected in the national budget.
He, however, noted that public financing was no longer sustainable, urging the private sector to continue to invest in education in Nigeria.
On the transformation of the teaching profession, Adejo disclosed that President Muhammadu Buhari had already approved robust incentives for teachers and students studying education in universities and colleges of education in Nigeria.
He particularly revealed that the Federal Government is doing all it could to ensure that scholarship awards to students studying education courses in tertiary Institutions come into effect in 2023.
He noted that there was the need to ensure full recovery from COVID-19 education disruptions, address educational exclusion, safety and health, renew curricula and pedagogies while also steering the digital transformation for just and equitable learning.
Senior Education Advisor, UNESCO Abuja Regional Office, Mamadou Lamine Sow, on his part, urged the Federal Government to ensure that children in Nigeria are safe on their way to and from school and while they are at school.
Sow said: “Our collective commitment and action are urgently needed to wipe out the scourge of school attacks in
“We must make education affordable for all learners – the poor, vulnerable, excluded, and marginalized children, through the removal of both direct, indirect and opportunity costs of education.
“Nigeria must mobilise and significantly increase the part of domestic resources allocated to education and ensure that funds are used efficiently and effectively to support the disadvantaged children, to develop and maintain school infrastructures, and to support the quality of teaching and learning for better learning outcomes.
Deputy Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC), Mr Chris Maiyaki, said the inclusive national consultation, in advance of the September 2022 Transforming Education Summit, is necessary to develop national statements to feed into the Summit.
He also tasked stakeholders to take advantage of the opportunity to renew commitment to the Education 2030 agenda by mobilising cross-sectoral stakeholders in support of education.
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Nigeria’s spending on education above 26% UNESCO’s recommendation ― FG