By Chijioke Okoronkwo
Abuja – Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has said that resolving challenges confronting education would ease the quest to end poverty in Nigeria.
Osinbajo, who delivered the keynote address at Nigeria’s Annual Education Conference 2019 on Thursday in Abuja, said that there was need to invest in relevant education.
The theme of the two-day conference is “Education for Sustainable Livelihoods: A System’s Approach to Strengthening the Sector for Productivity and Global Competitiveness.’’
The vice president said that relevant education meant the type of learning that would equip the child with best possible skills – digital and civic, as well as innovative skills.
Osinbajo said that a UNESCO Global Education Monitoring Report and the Education Commission’s Learning Generation Report provided important evidence on the impact of education on individual’s earnings and economic growth.
He said that the report found that education reduced poverty and that absolute poverty could be reduced by 30 per cent from learning improvements
“Responding to the twin challenge, President Muhammadu Buhari made two crucial commitments within the same month.
“On June 12, he declared that the crucial objective of our administration in the second term is to take 100 million Nigerians out of poverty within the next 10 years.
“ And on June 20, while inaugurating the National Economic Council, he said that our administration, working with state governments, was committed to enforcing the law on free and compulsory education in the first nine years of a child’s school life.
“So, to resolve the educational challenge is to resolve the poverty challenge; the choices that lie before us are clear – investing in relevant education.
“By that I mean education that will equip the child with best possible skills, digital, civic, and innovative skills, education that equips to function optimally in a world defined by the astonishing developments of the fourth industrial revolution.
“The policy responses led by the Ministry of Education have been thoughtful and robust; the Education for Change Strategy (2018-2022) deserves commendation.’’
He said that through the approach, deliberate actions had commenced in the 10 priority areas.
The vice president listed the key policies to include Out-of-School Children, Youth and Adult Literacy, Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and Technical, Vocational Education and Training (TVET) and Basic Education.
Others are Teacher Education, Capacity Building and Professional Development, Curriculum and Policy Matters, Tertiary Education, Education Data and Planning, Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in Education and Library Services in Education.
He said that it must be immediately acknowledged that the Federal Government’s constitutional role in the first nine years of a child’s life was minimal.
“It is primarily the constitutional role and responsibility of states and local governments.
“States simply have to prioritise basic education by making more funding available; every person must have basic education at the very least .
“It is an existential issue; it is about the future of the citizens of every state; however, the Federal Government considers that it has crucial roles to play, especially to guide, inspire, coordinate, co-fund and complement the basic education strategy.’’
Osinbajo said that Nigeria had seen an almost 40 per cent rise in school enrollment in schools across the 33 States where the Federal Governments Home Grown School Feeding Programme was being implemented.
He said that the rise in enrollment had led to over-crowding of classrooms which created another set of problems with regard to school infrastructure and the ability of children to learn in such conditions.
Osinbajo said that what the aforementioned meant was that resources must be found to build additional classrooms across the country so that children could learn in optimal conditions.
Earlier in his speech, education minister, Adamu Adamu, said that priority was given to the expansion of access to Early Childcare Education with the establishment of Community-Based Early Childcare Centres(CBECC) to ease transition to basic education, starting from 2017.
Represented by the Minister of State for Education, Emeka Nwajiuba, Adamu said that the centres were located in Gombe, Taraba, Sokoto, Kastina, Bauchi, Ekiti, Osun, Oyo, Imo, Akwa Ibom, Niger, Zamfara, Benue and Rivers States
On his part, Mr Yao Ydo, Regional Director, UNESCO, said it was high time stakeholders began acting on the enablers of quality education for sustainable development, livelihood, productivity and global competitiveness.
Ydo said that policy decisions must be evidence-based and reflect a long strategic and holistic approach to education through the promotion of inclusive, equitable and livelong learning opportunity for all.
He said that the UN system in Nigeria was totally committed to solving education challenges facing Nigeria.
Ydo said that UN system in Nigeria had validated a document called the UN Sustainable Development Partnership Framework 2018 to 2022 signed by the UN and the Nigerian government, a copy of which he presented to the vice president.(