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.
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 MuhammaduBuhari 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, MamadouLamine 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 inNigeria.
“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.
Akwa Ibom Approves N10,000 Bursary For Public Tertiary Students
As part of alleviating the suffering of students, Governor Umo Eno of Akwa Ibom State has approved the payment of N10,000 to each indigene who is studying in a public institution.
The payment which will be paid through an innovative bursary payment portal has already commenced with some students applauding the transparent nature of the process.
According to Dr Frank Ekpenyong, Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on ICT and Digital Services, the initiative reflects Governor Eno’s commitment to sound education and his quest to uplift the state’s academic community.
Ekpenyong, who led the team that developed the portal in collaboration with the Ministry of Education said the portal will serve as an exclusive gateway for bursary applications and payment.
“This user-friendly portal ensures swift payment processing upon validation, granting immediate disbursement upon meeting the necessary criteria. Students are required to submit specific documents including a valid ID card, admission letter, certificate of origin, last school payment receipt, and a current passport photograph for seamless validation and payment processing.
“The digital platform stands as the sole authorized channel for bursary applications. Students are urged to exercise caution and avoid any pseudo or secondary websites to prevent misinformation or misrepresentation,” emphasised Ekpenyong.
He stated that payments will be directly credited to the provided bank accounts upon successful registration. Furthermore, measures have been implemented to deter fraudulent activities, ensuring fair and equitable distribution among eligible candidates.
To aid students in the registration process, he stated that various support channels such as dedicated control room, call centre, live chat and email assistance have been established. Additionally, extensive outreach programmes will be conducted to facilitate application processes and assist students in need.
Addressing concerns during a Q&A session, Ekpenyong reinforced the importance of adherence to the portal’s guidelines and revealed that some students have applauded the seamless registration process.
“Each Akwa Ibom student in a public tertiary institution is entitled to this support.The people-centric Governor has made adequate funding available for all beneficiaries. You need not belong to any group or political party. We’ve instituted measures to verify and validate applications to prevent exploitation and secure the benefits for genuine students.”
While encouraging students to commence their registration immediately via the portal for prompt processing and payment, he noted that the bursary scheme marks the beginning of a transformative initiative aimed at supporting education and empowering the future leaders of Akwa Ibom State.
Pro-Chancellor Urges TETfund To Support Private Varsities
Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of Council, Al-Hikmah University, Ilorin, Alhaja Sekinat Yusuf, has called on the Tertiary Eductaion Trust Fund (TETfund) to support the institution and other private universities in Nigeria.
Making the appeal on Saturday in Ilorin at the 13th Convocation of the institution, Yusuf said private universities are in dire need of assistance.
She noted that government alone cannot shoulder the heavy load of funding tertiary education at all levels, despite the substantial intervention assistance by the TETFund.
“The Committees of Pro-Chancellors as well as that of Vice-chancellors of Private Universities have over the years made representations to the Federal Government on the dire need for support.
“It is my humble plea that the President would consider this request for TETFund support of Nigerian private universities and this could be achieved by amending the enabling Law which established the body,” she said.
In the same vein, the Chancellor, Alhaji Sayyu Dantata, said the university was working vigorously putting in place modalities to satisfy the criteria for the establishment of Engineering and Medical programmes.
“However, infrastructural deficiency due to paucity of fund is our major challenge.
“The university is therefore in dire need of assistance to make teaching, learning and research conducive to our students across our three campuses at Adeta, Atere and Igbaja.
“In particular, we need sponsors to establish these important faculties and we urge friends of the university, wells wishers, parents and the Alumni to key into the development agenda of the university,” Dantata urged.
Earlier, the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Noah Yusuf, urged the graduands to be good ambassadors and not disappoint their Alma mater.
“We have a total of 1,584 graduates, comprising 1,207 Undergraduates, 343 Postgraduates and 31 Diploma Certificate holders.
“Out of the Undergraduates, 26 had First Class, 472 – Second Class Upper, 600 – Second Class Lower and 109 -Third Class.
“For the Post Graduate graduands, 27 were Ph.D while 213 were Masters graduands.
“We are also glad to have eminent Nigerians among the graduands, including the Inspector General of Police, IG-P Kayode Egbetokun; and Chief of Staff to former President Muhammadu Buhari, Amb. Ibrahim Gambari, among others,” he said.
The vice chancellor disclosed that as part of efforts to contribute to food security in Nigeria, the university launched the Green Campus Initiative on August 23, which involved planting of 50,000 tree seedlings at the Faculty of Agriculture, Igbaja campus.
Corruption, Bane Of Nigerian Education – Methodist Old Students
The National President, Methodist High School Old Boys Association, (MHSIOBA), Dr Lekan Abioye, says the bane of Nigerian education is corruption.
Abioye stated at the opening of the 2023 maiden Mega Reunion of the association in Ibadan on Friday that the poor state of education sector in the country was fuelled by corruption.
The Tide’s source reports that the event has the theme: “Education, Innovation and Possibilities for a Better Nation”.
According to him, the present state of education in Nigeria is truly in a very big distress occasioned by corruption.
Abioye cited poor attitude to work, mismanagement of resources and laziness as factors aiding corruption in the education sector.
He stressed the need for leadership at all levels to show right examples and adhere to standards to bring sanity into the education system.
“When you are not doing you what you are supposed to do that is corruption. When you are to be at work for eight hours and you only spent five hours and you left that is corruption.
“One of the things that can curb corruption in Nigeria is right leadership,” Abioye said.
Citing his experience as the leader of the MHSIOBA, he stated that none of his executive members or those working in close connection with him was corrupted because of the leadership style he adopted.
Abioye said people should lead by example as the problem in the Nigerian education sector was corruption emanating from the leadership.
“If the leadership gets it right everything else will fall in line.
“Nigerians are the kind that when you set out the rules and you bring out two to three scapegoats everyone will comply,” he said.
He emphasised transparency, integrity and openness, adding that the ripple effects of corruption have been poverty and younger generations that were after getting rich quickly.
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