As the world commemorates the fourth International Day of Education, Save the Children International has urged the government to ensure inclusive, equitable quality education that promotes lifelong learning opportunities for all to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).
The organization said on Monday that this requires the Nigerian government’s fulfillment of the commitment President Mohammadu Buhari made at the Global Education Summit (GPE) (2021) to increase education funding to 14 percent by 2022, 16.7 percent in 2023, 20 percent by 2024, and 22.5 percent by 2025.
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The Country Director, Save the Children International (SCI) Nigeria, Ms. Mercy Gichuhi, said that education is no doubt at the heart of the global goals for sustainable development.
She said that it is a singular act that is needed to reduce inequalities (Goal 10), reverse cycles of intergenerational poverty (Goal 1), and improve health (Goal 3) as well as the vehicle to achieve gender equality and eliminate child marriage (Goal 5).
She said that it is high time the government and all stakeholders prioritize education as a public good; support it with cooperation, partnerships, and funding; and recognize that leaving no one behind starts with education.
The Save the Children’s report on education (2017) in Borno State “Turning Education Around: Responding to the Crisis in Borno State” revealed that, one of the key drivers of the conflict in Borno was the pre-existing crisis in education.
Over the years, especially in northeast Nigeria, schools cannot cater to the high demands of out-of-school children due to lack of adequate funds, technical capacity, and loss of infrastructure, materials, and teachers’ lives because of insurgency.
The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated a pre-existing education crisis while reliance on digital technology for learning has deepened exclusion and gender inequalities and there are more children out-of-school now in northeast Nigeria than before the insurgency.
In some other parts of Nigeria, schools do not have the technical capacity to support physically challenged, marginalized, or minority children, while funding remains a challenge to the education system across the board.
Gichuhi added, “Children constitute a great number of the world population and they are the future of the society. The worst option is to see a generation of children and young people who lack the skills they need to compete in the 21st-century economy or leave behind half of humanity. The prize of non-providing the necessary skills to the leaders of tomorrow is a catastrophe.”
Save the Children recommends the incorporation of technology in education that is inclusive, prioritizes the girl child to ensure no one is left behind in the race to agenda 2030.
She said, “We ask that teachers be recognized and be provided with professional support so that they can bring innovation to learning.”