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Nigeria and International Day of Education

In Nigeria, UNESCO estimates there are about 20 million children of school age who are out of school. As the world marks the IDE today, domestic problems in the sector abound and transcend violence. Poor funding is one. The other is corruption.
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Today marks the sixth International Day of Education, emphasizing the pivotal role education plays in fostering lasting peace and development globally. This annual observance, declared by the United Nations General Assembly in 2018, underscores the urgency of addressing issues such as violent conflicts, discrimination, racism, xenophobia, and hate speech through education.

UNESCO, which recognises education as a fundamental human right, expresses concern over the current surge in conflicts and the rise of hate speech, especially on social media platforms. The organisation emphasises the crucial role of education and teachers in countering these challenges.

Globally, 250 million children and youths are out of school, and 763 million adults are illiterate. In Nigeria, an estimated 20 million school-age children are out of school, with domestic challenges exacerbating the situation. Issues like poor funding and corruption, including the misuse of grants from the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), contribute to the education sector’s struggles.

Facilities in many schools are deteriorating, affecting attendance, particularly in rural areas prone to flooding. The National Bureau of Statistics reports that pupils and students lost an average of 42 school days in 2022 due to flooding. The senior secondary and tertiary education sectors also face challenges, with insufficient budget allocations, inadequate learning materials, and overcrowded lecture halls.

Nigeria’s commitment to allocate at least 15% of the budget to the education sector falls short, with only 7.9% allocated this year. Learning aids and textbooks have become unaffordable for many parents, leading to children attending school without necessary materials. The shortage of classrooms and furniture further compounds the issues.

Countries like Sweden, Finland, Norway, Denmark, and the Netherlands, which prioritise and adequately fund education, are not only economically advanced with high living standards but also have low crime rates. In contrast, Nigeria grapples with violence, particularly against school children who face kidnappings, massacres, displacement, and relocation to IDP camps by terrorists.

UNESCO emphasises that achieving gender equality and breaking the cycle of poverty requires inclusive, equitable, and quality education for all. Without such opportunities, millions of children, youth, and adults worldwide will be left behind.

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