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Saraki calls for implementation of free 12-year education for children

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The wife of former Senate President, Toyin Saraki, has tasked the incoming administration to reimagine education for the country and create a system that guarantees 12 years of uninterrupted learning for every child in the country.

Speaking at the National Moment on Basic and Secondary Education programme organised by the Malala Fund on Thursday in Abuja, Saraki stated that implementing 12 years of education using a progressive universalisation approach supports those who are most vulnerable to being school dropouts.

She explained that political will through legislation amendment and financial planning will significantly reduce the number of out-of-school children, currently put at 20 million in Nigeria.

She said, “Education is the most powerful investment in our future, and this moment is an opportunity for us to encourage our new government to reimagine education for the country and find better ways to provide 12 years of safe, free, quality education for all.

“Through amending legislation to make education free and compulsory up to senior secondary level, thus guaranteeing 12 years of uninterrupted education for Nigerian children, and by adopting a progressive universalisation approach to the implementation of 12 years of education, which prioritises support those at greatest risk of not learning; the poor, the discriminated against, girls, children with disabilities and those facing multiple disadvantages, Nigeria will be on track to achieving SDG 4.”

Saraki, who is also the Founder-President of the Wellbeing Foundation Africa, further advised the government to ensure a 4 per cent allocation of the GDP and 22.5 per cent of the national budget for education by 2025.

“I urge the new incoming government to key in on gender transformative education issues, to promote the education of the girl child, addressing education gaps and fundamental issues that contribute to out-of-school and poor literacy levels across Nigeria, she said.

Earlier in her remarks, the Programme Director, Malala Fund, Fatima Askira, called for the implementation of multi-sectoral support to keep children especially the girl child safe, and aid in the development of federal and state-level roadmaps and plans, for funding, safety, standards, and training.

She also pledged the organisation’s commitment to influence government policies on girl-child education significantly.

Askira said, “The topmost critical issues with potentially significant influence on girl-child education outcomes are issues around the institutional landscape: for basic education, financing for basic education, financing for girl child education, gender mainstreaming in education financing, the political economy of girl child education, and evolution of cultural and traditional harmful practices and its impact on girl child education outcomes.

“Malala Fund’s work in Nigeria will continue to respond to these socio-economic and policy realities and builds on learnings from our work to date in the country.”

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