BusinessDay

The crisis in Nigeria’s educational sector

Education can be regarded as the process where an individual formally acquires or imparts basic knowledge to another. Its ultimate goal is to help one navigate life and contribute to society once he or she comes of age.

If all the children in low-income homes can acquire basic reading skills before leaving school, the entire society could change dramatically. This is because education helps to eradicate poverty, hunger, and also gives the individual the chance of a better life.

However, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) report, Nigeria has about 70 percent of the country’s children going through a learning-crisis syndrome.

The UNICEF statistics further indicate that 53 percent of Nigerian children within 10 years would neither be able to read nor write.

Recently, the Nigerian government itself acknowledged that the country has the highest number of children out of school in the world. It says further that, there are about 10.5 million children not being educated.

It is no longer news that millions of Nigerian children have never set foot in a classroom and this is very disturbing, especially in the 21st Century

Education stakeholders attributed the blame to cultural factors, nomadic communities, banditry, and the terrorism that continues to ravage parts of the country.

No doubt, the education crisis in Nigeria is affecting children across the country. However, some children are more likely to be affected than others: girls, children with disabilities, children from the poorest households, in street situations, or affected by displacement or emergencies, and children in geographically distant areas are all disproportionately affected by the education crisis.

Besides, research has shown that some states are educationally backward in Nigeria. States like Zamfara, Yobe and Ebonyi have at one time or the other been listed among the educationally backward states.

It is no longer news that millions of Nigerian children have never set foot in a classroom and this is very disturbing, especially in the 21st Century.

Perhaps more tragic is that the high number of children who make it into a classroom, but never make the transition from primary school to secondary school thereby cutting off their chances for a secure future is on the rise.

It is estimated that 35 percent of Nigerian children who attend primary school do not go on to attend secondary school.

According to the UNICEF report, Nigeria has the highest number of out-of-school children in the world! A full one-third of Nigerian children are not in school, and one in every five out-of-school children in the world is a Nigerian.

Read also: Addressing learning crisis in Nigeria’s education sector

The report also indicated that half of all Nigerian children did not attend secondary school in 2021. The reason is not far-fetched. The incessant banditry, terrorism and other indices of insecurity that befell the country scared students away from schools.

In 2021, there were 25 attacks on schools. 1,440 children were abducted, and 16 children killed. No fewer than 618 schools were shut down in six northern states (Sokoto, Zamfara, Kano, Katsina, Niger, and Yobe) in March 2021, over the fear of attack and abduction of pupils and members of staff.

In the south-east, the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) enforced a sit-at-home order every Monday of the week, limiting the school days to just four. In fact, this nefarious act hindered many children from writing some papers in the West Africa Senior School Certificate Examinations (WASSCE).

There is a great need to address this academic pandemic rampaging the country. And in doing this, we vehemently advocate that government at various levels should ensure that children are safe when they are in school, no child should be afraid to enter a classroom or afraid his or her school might be attacked and/or that they will be kidnapped.

Moreover, we urge the educational disadvantaged states to collaborate with others in terms of teaching materials, human capacity building, among others. If Lagos State under Akinwunmi Ambode could enter into partnership with Kebbi State to produce LAKE Rice, then states can also borrow ideas from each other and in the process build their education sector.

States should also leverage on the Universal Basic Education Commission’s (UBEC) vision to get their people educated. The fundamental principle of UBEC in Nigeria is that everybody must have access to equivalent education comprehensively and co-educationally.

On this note, we totally agree with Peter Hawkins, who said: all Nigerian children deserve a fighting chance, no matter who they are or where they are. And this must of necessity include a good and sound education. It is not only their right; it is the smartest and best way to secure the future of Nigeria as a whole.

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