A Keynote Address by the Director, FCT Education Resource Center

National Conference on Education
November 11, 2010
Speech Delivered by Iyom Josephine Anenih Mini, Honourable Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development At a Conference on Education
November 12, 2010
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QUALITY EDUCATION OF THE CHILD/YOUTH AS A TOOL FOR NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT: ASSESSING NIGERIA’S MDG’S PERFORMANCE, A KEYNOTE ADDRESS BY THE DIRECTOR FCT EDUCATION RESOURCE CENTRE AT THE PROGRAMME ORGANISED BY THE CENTRE FOR ECONOMIC LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT ON FUTURE LEADERS CLUB AND SCHOLARSHIP SCHEME.

Education is the bedrock of all forms of development (social, economic, technological and political).  Education therefore is critical to the development of human capital as this is seen as the most important key to rapid economic development and the strongest weapon against poverty.  For most countries of the world, including the developed ones.  Education is considered the number one development challenge.

Former President Clinton of the United States of the United States of American (the World’s most powerful nation) was once asked to list the three most serious problems of his country, and he was reported to have replied ‘Education, Education, Education.  That reply is an indication of the enormity of the challenge that Education poses for a country that is still struggling with development challenges, like Nigeria.

The most significant steps towards quality education delivery was the passing into law the compulsory, free, Universal Basic Education (UBE) Act 2004 which demonstrated the strong political will of the Nigerian Government to drive national development through education wide-sector reforms.

Despite the significant efforts since the launch of its UBE programme, Nigeria still has a lot of do in its progress towards achieving the education related MDGs and Education For All (EFA) goals due to the following challenges:-

  • Unsatisfactory level of meaningful access to educational opportunities (nation-wide, 64 percent of school-age boys and 53 percent of school-age girls attend primary school.  There are large gender, income and regional disparities in enrolment rates.  Enrolment rates for girls in some Northern States are only around 20%.  The cost of schooling both direct and indirect opportunity costs, remains the key reason for low enrolment and for dropping out of school).
  • Poor quality and relevance (The quality of education is generally unsatisfactory and varies considerably within and across the 36 states and the FCT. There is inadequate systematic and reliable information on student’s learning outcomes.  Available surveys showed that learning outcomes in primary schools are weak and vary considerably across states.

The main contributing factors to low learning outcomes are shortage of textbooks, lack of essential instructional materials and ineffective pre – and in-service teacher training, and outdated curricula.

  • Infrastructural insufficiency and decay (the poor conditions of the learning environment to support effective teaching and learning (e.g. poor conditions of physical facilities).
  • Inefficient management and system inefficiency (Weak management information systems have resulted in a scarcity of quality data for policy making and monitoring performance on the education system.
  • None sustainable funding and inadequate resourcing. (Despite increases in public spending on education, available funding (based on the current trends) is insufficient to achieve the education-related MDGs and improve the quality of post-basic education.  The budgetary spending on education as a percentage of the total budget of Federal and State Governments is far below the UNESCO Recommendation of 26%.

Through the MDGs interventions in funding basic education in Nigeria, considerable progress has been made on access in both formal and non-formal education.  However, the imperative of qualitative inclusion cannot be overemphasized because it is the most crucial indicator of systemic efficiency and cost effective of progress at all levels.  In the Nigerian context, quality implies enriched, functional, flexible and innovative curriculum; well trained, motivated, reflective and adaptable teachers and school administrators; appropriate and medium size classrooms, good school health and security; good support services and diversified instructional materials; adequate funding; monitoring, assessment and evaluation; high completion rate and satisfactory learning outcomes.  A successful attainment of the enumerated education indicators and the sustenance of the ongoing reform programmes are essential if Nigeria’s quest to build human capital for a knowledge-based economy is to be realized.

In conclusion, developed countries have attained their present economic status mainly because of the quality of their human resources, which are results of quality-driven education systems.  The less-developed countries, if ever they have to join the world development league, will therefore have too fast track their move towards quality educational development.  Thus Nigeria has to consider education as her 1st, 2nd and 3rd priorities.

Thank you and God bless.

 

Reference

1.   World Bank Policy – DFID-USAID on Nigeria Education Policy Notes.

2.   The 48th Session of the International Conference on Education (ICE), Theme: Inclusive Education: The Way of The Future – Geneva, Switzland, Now. 23rd-28th2008.

3.   The Nigeria Project Agenda (Mr. President’s 7 – Point Agenda)

4.   Economic Confidential (www.economicconfidential.com) Interview with Senior Special Assistant to the President on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), Mrs. Amina Mohammed Az-Zubair

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