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Nigeria has 39m kids who can’t read or write

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By Abiodun Okunloye

Only 25% of those in school possess proficient skills in reading and numeracy.

According to recent government findings, about 39 million Nigerian children of school age are unable to read or write. Additionally, Nigeria is recognized as one of the nations struggling with the most number of out-of-school children, particularly those between 6 and 14 years old. Shockingly, out of those enrolled in schools, only a mere 25 percent possess proficient skills in reading and numeracy. At the Lagos Airport Hotel Ikeja, during the Ministerial Session of the 67th National Council on Education (NCE) Meeting, Prof. Tahir Mamman, the Minister of Education, shared these statistics as they were derived from the World Bank report.

The National Council on Education (NCE) holds the prestigious title of being the supreme authority in education policy in Nigeria. It convenes gatherings where representatives from all corners of the country’s educational landscape, spanning 35 states and the Federal Capital Territory, unite to participate. In regards to the theme of the event, “Addressing the Challenges of Policy Implementation: A Panacea for the Education Achievement of the 2030 Agenda”, the minister emphasised the pressing need for enhancing the education system and improving service provision, particularly at the foundational level, in light of unsettling data and a compelling storyline.

By the year 2034, out-of-school children will be reduced to 7%.

Despite the efforts made by different organisations such as the World Bank, UNICEF, and UNESCO, along with the Nigerian government, to address the issue of out-of-school children and enhance Literacy and numeracy skills through better enrollment, infrastructure, and service quality, there remains a significant void that needs to be filled within the system. He stated that their collective goal is to reduce the number of children who are not attending school to a mere 7% by the year 2034. Furthermore, they aim to guarantee that at least half of all children exhibit competence in reading and mathematics at a fundamental level.

Also, the education sector in Nigeria is set for a transformative journey under the leadership of President Bola Tinubu, as stated by the minister. The current administration is wholeheartedly dedicated to revamping education at every level. This undertaking is not merely to achieve development goals but also to establish a solid foundation that harmonises the education system with the present-day socio-economic dynamics of the 21st Century. He emphasises the roadmap, Education for Hope Reborn, which places particular attention on out-of-school children, girls, skill enhancement, and entrepreneurship Education, urging for a re-evaluation of the industry’s positioning.

Student enrollment across all levels will be enhanced.

In addition, the government’s primary focus in the education sector is to enhance student enrollment across all levels, foster Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET), enhance accessibility and quality of Teacher education, upgrade information management systems and ICT facilities, as well as monitor and assess the implementation of NCE decisions. Nonetheless, the minister expressed appreciation to the Lagos State government for their exceptional accomplishments in the education sector and extended gratitude to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu and the residents of Lagos State for hosting the NCE meeting.

Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the Lagos State governor, emphasised in his statement that the state holds an unwavering dedication to maintaining its commitment to delivering education of both high quality and quantity to its populace. The governor emphasised the significance of education to the progress of the state towards its smart city aspirations during the event, where Mr. Jamiu Alli-Balogun, the Commissioner for Basic and Secondary Education, stood on his behalf. As one of the administration’s pivotal seven-point agenda, education holds immense importance. Over the past five years, he emphasised the state’s significant Investment in the sector, encompassing infrastructural advancements and educational facilities across all levels. These efforts have resulted in a remarkable enhancement in students’ academic achievements in examinations such as the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE).

A collaborative effort will identify and adopt effective strategies.

He extended a warm reception to the representatives from diverse sides of the nation and urged them to contribute their unique perspectives garnered from their individual states. He encouraged them to collaboratively identify and adopt effective strategies that would yield fruitful outcomes for the betterment of the entire nation. Dr. Yusuf Sununu, the Minister of State for Education, emphasised the transformative power of education in his address. Education, he stated, serves as both a catalyst for societal progress and a means for individual upliftment from poverty, enhancing their overall well-being. Dr. Sununu expressed hope that the NCE gathering would yield pragmatic solutions to the barriers impeding the successful implementation of educational policies.


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