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UNGA 2023: Access to quality education is an ‘urgency of now’ — Kwara Gov

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Kwara State Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq has said that promoting access to quality education for millions of children in need of it “is an urgency of now” for the international community, including donor agencies and development partners.

Speaking at an event on the sidelines of the 2023 United Nations General Assembly in New York, AbdulRazaq explained that his administration has invested billions of naira on school infrastructure and introduction of technology to promote good teaching techniques, accountability, and effective learning which empowers the children to be at par with their peers in other climes.

“What we have done has empowered teachers to adhere to curriculum standards, help the children to learn, reduce absenteeism, and raise school enrollment amid rising standards,” he said.

Organised by Devex Event and New Globe, the theme of the event was ‘Addressing Africa’s learning crisis and preparing for a young future: finding solutions.’

The governor spoke alongside president and co-founder of New Globe Shannon May; executive director of Education Cannot Wait, an initiative of the United Nations, Yasmine Sherif; editorial director of Devex Richard Jones; senior fellow and deputy director of Centre for Universal Education, Brookings Institution, Jennifer O’donoghue; senior fellow at Stanford University Eric Hanushek; and executive director- Africa CAMFED Shungu Gwarinda; among many others.

The governor said a well-funded education sector also holds the key to improvements across many other sectors like health, water, rural urban development and food security, adding that data mined from schools can help governments to make informed decisions, plan and deploy scarce resources.

“We have improved public school enrollment by some 48.7% at basic level, while the introduction of technology has really empowered our teachers and children alike,” AbdulRazaq added, although he said funding remains a big challenge.

He explained that learning deprivation in Kwara public schools has reduced from 70.8% to 51.6% within a space of 40 weeks of introducing the new programme, KwaraLEARN.

Yasmine, who commended what the Governor has done in Kwara, said he had rightly called a need to jointly fund education and promote inclusion “an urgency of now” especially in the deployment of resources to deepen functional education.

Yasmine said such urgency should not affect the quality of education as well as the scope of the target, adding that the UN body is mobilizing at least $1.5bn fund to give quality education to some 120m out of school children in distressed parts of the world.

Yasmine said she would soon lead a team to Nigeria as part of the global campaign for education rights of young children, adding that Kwara would be on their radar during such visits.

New Globe’s co-founder Shannon May said she was impressed at the vision of Abdulrazaq to transform public schools in Kwara State, urging other states and leaders in Africa to deploy the same resources and energy to the same cause.

She commended the progress so far made in Kwara State and a few other Nigerian states, saying such improvements had been made possible through political will and reliance on data-based strategies to drive inclusive education and great learning outcomes for young people.

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