International Day Of Education: Nigeria Fought For This Day But Fails At Home
It is International Day of Education and it is the first time that the world is commemorating this event.
Nigeria had played a major role in the push for the day to be set aside by the United Nations, as a day to acknowledge the role education in the development of any nation.
It was approved in December 2018 and January 24 was chosen as the day the whole World will mark the impact of education on nations.
One thing that beats imagination, however, is that back home, Nigeria's education system has remained a shadow of what a real education system should be.
Public schools have become the learning centre for the lowest class in the society, as the environment, teaching process and other infrastructure required to make learning interesting are missing.
In the northeast, insecurity, riding on the back of insurgency, has ensured students dread going to school in fear of being abducted of attacked.
Nigeria has over 2 million out-of-school children, with the sector getting less than 11% of allocation in the budget against the recommended 26% by UNESCO.
The struggle did not end with the foundational level of education, as the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) are on strike and it is getting to its third month.
In a message to mark the day, the Director-General of UNESCO, Ms Audrey Azoulay, said the decision of the United Nations General Assembly recognises the capital role of education in “Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”.
She pointed out that without inclusive and equitable quality education and lifelong opportunities for all, countries will not succeed in breaking the cycle of poverty that is leaving millions of children, youth and adults behind.
Nigeria is leading the pack when talks of poverty is raised, with over 40% of the nation's population living below poverty line.
'262 Million Children And Youth Not In School'
In a message to the world on the first International Day of Education, Azoulay said: "We will not succeed in mitigating climate change, adapting to the technological revolution, let alone achieve gender equality, without ambitious political commitment to universal education.
"This day is the occasion to reaffirm fundamental principles.
"Firstly, education is a human right, a public good and a public responsibility.
"Secondly, education is the most powerful force in our hands to ensure significant improvements in health, to stimulate economic growth, to unlock the potential and innovation we need to build more resilient and sustainable societies.
"Lastly, we urgently need to call for collective action for education at global level. Headline figures point to the challenges: 262 million children and youth do not attend school; 617 million children and adolescents cannot read and do basic math".
In Africa, less than 40% of girls in complete lower secondary school while some four million children and youth refugees are out of school, their lives disrupted by conflict and loss.
Nigeria has a fair share of this number, having the highest population in Africa, and the need for a reform to address the decay in the education system has been emphasised.
The President of ASUU, Professor Biodun Ogunyemi, had highlighted the burden that Nigeria had continued to differ in its 'interest' in reviving the education sector.
A nation is as developed as its education sector, it has been said, and the union's leader further emphasised this in his statements.
On why the union has been on strike, he said that agreements were reached in 2009 and 2017 to raise funding of tertiary institutions to ensure Nigerian graduates were at par with others from different nations with high education standards, but expressed concern that the government had not showed willingness to uphold the agreement.
He said the government would need to show more commitment to reforming the education sector for the standard to change.
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