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5 Issues we must address now for every child to access quality education

Sustainable Development Goal 4 (Global Goal 4) is about quality education and is among the 17 Sustainable Development Goals established by the United Nations in September 2015. The full title of SDG 4 is “Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”. This is a feat that is meant to be achieved by 2030.

As children all over Nigeria mark this year Children’s Day, we weigh in on the way forward in achieving this crucial goal in eight years from now.

The prevalence of extreme poverty, insurgency, under skilled labour, and other factors have significantly reduced the growth of education in Nigeria. Education, which is meant to be easily accessible to all, has now become a thing to be craved for and advocated for.

In this article, we take a look at the top five prevailing issues that need to be addressed immediately for the education system in Nigeria to take shape.

Under skilled manpower

In some parts of Nigeria, the teaching profession is not valued nor accorded the dignity it should. In some cases, under qualified persons who are not properly trained apply for these jobs and are considered. When the young people are not well guided, their future is at stake.

There are also no nationally-recognized guidelines for hiring teachers. Issues like this leave huge quality gaps in the education of the Nigerian child. It is recommended that teachers should take refresher course from time to time. Although some schools already have provisions for their teachers to attend trainings, we would like to see more of these, especially among the government schools. There are teachers who want to improve themselves but can’t afford to.

In instances where schools do not have the required funds to train staff, we recommend that the government step in.

Outdated curriculum

The current curriculum used in most schools is outdated. Most of the Nigerian education curriculum is still based on the Universal Basic Education (UBE) programme that was adopted in 1981. The world is currently evolving and so is education. We applaud the efforts of some schools, who have taken the initiative to make changes in the curriculum on their own; this move could have an even more effective outcome if the government or regulatory bodies could extend this to more schools.

Another downside of the curriculum is that it is not unified. Some schools teach Quranic curricula, others follow a Montessori programme, and yet more follow other curricula. Learning is not static, it is progressive in nature and there are changes that need to be accommodated into the system.

We believe that if the curriculum could be revised and all schools stick to the same one, the Nigerian education system would move at a faster pace.

Insecurity

Most of Nigeria’s out-of-school children are in the Northeast and Northwest of the country, regions that have been heavily impacted by the Boko Haram insurgency for almost a decade.

As of June 2019, more than 1.9 million children had been forced out of school due to an increase in violence and insecurity across West and Central Africa.

According to reports from UNICEF, Nigeria, 2.8 million children in northeastern Nigeria are in need of education-in-emergencies support in three conflict-affected States (Borno, Yobe, Adamawa). In these states, at least 802 schools remain closed and 497 classrooms are listed as destroyed, with another 1,392 damaged but repairable.

The Northeast and Northwest states have female primary net enrollment rates of 47.7% and 47.3% respectively, which means that more than half of girls in these areas are not in school. These and other reasons are why Edugrant has put in place a number of programs targeted at the girl child education.

It is important that the government and stakeholders in education work together to ensure that the system has improved capacity to provide safety for schools.

Apart from funding and providing quality Education, one of the causes we are passionate about at Edugrant is the Safety of students, how will students even be able to assimilate what they are being taught when they do not feel safe? It is high time the society takes it upon themselves by starting causes that will ensure the safety of children in schools.

Inadequate funding

Education in Nigeria is really underfunded. UNESCO recommends that 15%-26% of the national budget should be allocated to education.

In 2018, only 7% of the national budget was allocated to education; in 2020, it was 6.7%. This is far below what is expected.

Public schools are owned and funded by the government; most of these schools typically lack quality facilities and learning tools. Teachers are also not well paid and may be unmotivated to put in their best.

Edugrant was set up to address the issue of inadequate funding and so far our success rate has been progressive. We have had quite a number of organizations and individuals reach out to us on how to partner and change this narrative. We have successfully assisted in funding the education of students at secondary and tertiary levels.

Read also: The importance of English language to a quality education in Nigeria

Non availability of learning resources

For students to learn and understand, there must be tools for them to gain hands-on knowledge. Learning need to be practical. This includes both hard and soft resources. Not having adequate resources also limits the amount of digital skills Nigerian students are able to receive via formal education.

More teachers must have the tools to gain essential expertise and skills. This enables them to use validated teaching methodologies to provide sufficient quality education. Technology is an important aspect in our everyday life and must be included in education even from an early stage.

At Edugrant, we have organized different tech trainings where students have been able to gain digital skills and its applications. We are still in the process of partnering with more organizations and digital centers to increase our reach.

We believe that if the government, education stakeholders, organizations and well meaning individuals can each play a meaningful part in addressing all of these, there will be a remarkable difference in the state of education in Nigeria.

As the children celebrate, let this be a call to action for each of us.

We are the change we desire, you are the change you desire, I am the change I desire.

Imasekha is a co-founder at Edugrant, an online platform

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