Nigerian Minister of Education, Prof. Tahir Mamman has revealed that the Ministry of Education has devised a plan aimed at ensuring that all of Nigeria 20 million out-of-school children are reintegrated into the education system within the next four years. He stated this during the 2024 budget defense in front of the joint committee of the National Assembly on Education in Abuja, highlighting the immense challenge it posed for the nation. Moving beyond primary and secondary education, he said there is a pressing need for tertiary level graduates equipped with valuable skills and aptitude, empowering them to actively contribute to the overall advancement of the country.
Prof. Mamman pointed out the necessity of producing employable graduates who meet employers’ expectations due to the prevalent dissatisfaction with the quality of education provided by universities and polytechnics. The main focus of the government and the ministry, he said, revolves around addressing these crucial areas within their policy framework. He stated that their efforts focused on providing an opportunity for a significant number of out-of-school children in Nigeria, estimated at around 20 million or maybe more, to return to school.
House expressed deep concerns regarding the alarming increase.
He gave assurances on empowering those unable to return to school with short yet effective skill-building programs. This will provide them with opportunities and enable them to connect with society and have a promising future. The minister also mentioned that the ministry has collaborated with stakeholders to carefully evaluate Nigeria school curriculum, ensuring that students acquire practical skills. To ensure the production of independent individuals, he advocated for the integration of skills training and entrepreneurship into university curricula, urging them to equip their graduates accordingly.
According to him, the ministry was allocated a sum of ₦101.45 billion in 2024 budget, with ₦5.88 billion allotted to personnel expenses, ₦1.08 billion for overhead expenses, and a significant ₦94.48 billion for capital investments. Aliyu Mustapha, Rep. Chairman of the House Committee on Alternative Education, expressed the House’s deep concerns regarding the alarming increase in the number of out-of-school children seen across Nigeria. He expressed delight at the minister’s emphasis on out-of-school children, the promotion of youth and adult literacy within the ministry’s agenda and dedication to vocational training.
Out-of-school children issues persist despite several efforts.
Aliyu said it has been observed that financial constraints continue to restrict the ministry’s capabilities in 2024. However, efforts are being made by the National Assembly to increase the allocated funds. He expressed confidence in providing the necessary backing and ensuring proper execution of programs through diligent supervision. The Education sector, in the proposed budget for 2024, received a modest amount of ₦2.18 trillion, which accounts for just 7.9 percent of the proposed budget, amounting to about ₦27.50 trillion.
Of this fund, ₦1.23 trillion – Amount provisioned for the Federal Ministry of Education and its agencies (Recurrent & Capital expenditure). ₦251.47 billion – Amount provisioned for Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC). ₦700.0 billion – Transfers to the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND) for infrastructure projects in Tertiary institutions. Although numerous attempts have been made by the Nigerian government, international development partners, and non-governmental organizations to address the prevailing problem of out-of-school children in Nigeria, the nation continues to face difficulties in overcoming the challenge.
Govt focuses on ensuring every child obtains quality education.
Even with concerted efforts and the cooperation among stakeholders, the issue remains an ongoing struggle. The situation is particularly dire in the northern region, where only 53 percent of children attend school. Reintegrating these children into school poses a monumental task. Also, ensuring access to education in rural areas and combating the detrimental effects of insurgency in the northern part further exacerbates the challenge. Nevertheless, the government’s efforts is to ensure that every child obtains quality education, in an environment conducive to learning, thus equipping them with the necessary knowledge and abilities.