FG, UNESCO, others partner with EDULEAD to solve education challenges

The Federal Government, in collaboration with other stakeholders, has promised to partner with EDULEAD Development initiative to solve the challenges in Nigeria’s education sector.

EDULEAD Development initiative is a Non Governmental Organisation (NGO) that seeks to promote quality education, sustainable agriculture, good governance and a healthy environment.

The stakeholders, including the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) and Sterling Bank, among others, made the commitment on Wednesday in Abuja at the launch of the Education DreamGap Project.

The project, initiated by EDULEAD Development initiative, seeks to solve the problem of out-of-school children in particular and other challenges bedevilling the education sector.

Minister of State for Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, represented by his Special Assistant on Projects, Mr Adewale Adenike, pledged Federal Government’s readiness to work with EDULEAD to achieve positive change in the education sector.

Nwajiuba commended EDULEAD for the laudable initiative.
“What you are doing is a great initiative. In education like we all know, no government can do it all.

“There must be partnership from the private sector and NGOs ought to be part of those driving our education system.
“I can tell you there are still lacunas. All we do is talk and after we talk, nothing changes.

“From what I am hearing, you are well focused here. You know exactly what you want to do and they are all itemised.
“One thing I can guarantee you is that, if you follow this path, you have the support of the Ministry.

“What the ministry wants is people who know exactly what they want to do and how they are going to achieve it.”

On out of school children, he said the statistics was worrisome but gave assurance that the Federal Government was working hard to ensure all children of school age went to school.

“One thing this government has done, under President Muhammadu Buhari, is to try and focus on the out-of-school children. “A lot of things are being done to encourage parents to allow their children not only to come to school but to stay in school.

“To the extent of having to pay people who are looking after the almajiri children for proper education.

“What we are now doing is that we are not asking you to come to school, we are bringing school to you.”

Nwajiuba decried the numerous challenges faced in the sector.

According to him, some reports claim that, in some parts of the country, classrooms are filled beyond capacity, making learning difficult.

“We have a problem. The problem is not wanting to go to school or not wanting to go to school.

“We need to provide the environment; we need to provide teachers with what they need to teach.

“Teachers were demi gods in those days; but nowadays, if you say a teacher is coming, they will tell you to get lost because we do not place value on teaching.

“Would anybody become anybody without teachers? Would you have doctors or ministers without teachers? The teaching profession has to be looked at.

“One of the areas we are looking at, in terms of reform, is if someone is to study engineering,  medicine, accounting, you are asking for the grades to be ‘A’s.

“But when it comes to teaching, you are will drop that grade to get the Cs, the Ds and Es.

“You expect this C,D,E teachers to produce ‘A’ students. There is something not right.

The minister said that the Federal Government was considering a review of the minimum qualification requirement for teachers at all levels of education.

“Currently, this government is looking at that. In Finland, you cannot teach in a primary school without a Masters degree. You will not be allowed to enter the classroom to teach.

“In Nigeria, it is a different ball game. I have been to some classes where you listen to what the teacher is saying and he is saying absolute nothing to the children.

“At the end of the day, we have empty children who are expected to go and take over the leadership of this country.

“So, we need people like EDULEAD to work together with. We need teachers’ training and retraining. 

“There are some people who are made to teach and others who love to teach.

“Some go into teaching because they could not get the course of their choice, they are not really interested in teaching; they just want to go there to earn a living.

“A teacher who is not ready to wake up on time and go to the classroom to make a change should not be there in the first place.

“You are asking a teacher to teach ICT; someone who cannot turn on a computer and does not have an android phone.

“For a youth organisation like yours to come up with this, there is hope for us and the ministry of education would love to work closely with you.”

Nwajiuba said the partnership would go a long way in solving challenges in the sector.

A representative from UNESCO, Dr Safiya Muhammad, commended the NGO for its efforts to revamp education in Nigeria.

“I want to congratulate EDULEAD for this very wonderful initiative. I have seen from your presentation of the overview that your dream is very tall as it covers other fields.

“I want to acknowledge most of the statements made by the Federal might, the representative of the State minister of education.
“He hit the nail on something UNESCO is really encouraging.

“In the global context, over 30 million children are out of school, but in Nigeria, the statistics mostly quoted is about 10 million or 11 million.”

She said UNESCO was interested in speaking about the recent trend in education, which is impact of COVID-19 on the sector.

“Many children have been out of school and a new normal has been created where learning has to take place somehow and mostly at home.
“Now, there are so many problems surrounding that. 

“There are those coming from poor countries, rural areas where there is no internet, no electricity, do not have laptops.

“The teachers have no access to these technological innovations not to talk of parents and students.”

Muhammad stressed that the new normal had affected the girl-child more.
“I want to narrow this to the girl-child. The negative impact has affected our daughters globally more than any other category of students.

“Girls are now forced to stay at home and shoulder the responsibility of household chores than when they were going to school.

“There are so many early pregnancies, early marriages and sexual violence affecting our women and girls as a result of the COVID-19. 

“How do we bridge the gap for the female gender to catch up with education?”

She said UNESCO would soon launch a campaign on sending students back to school, particularly female students, to tackle the problem.

She assured EDULEAD of UNESCO’s readiness to partner with it to solve the problems.

“In the States you have earmarked, we can work with you in Imo State and the Federal Capital Territory(FCT). We can get the details of what you do.
“Send it to us as quickly as possible and we can discuss on how this can be done.

“We need to find out how we can assist the female gender to close the huge educational gap that has been created by COVID-19,” Muhammad said.

A representative from Sterling Bank, Mr Stanley Ejelue, commended EDULEAD’s effort and assured the NGO of the bank’s support.

“One of our visions is to enrich life and we do that by adding value; our goal is not just to look for deposits, ask you for money but to also add value.
“We are going to collaborate and we are going to take this across the country,” Ejelue said.

Earlier, in his address, the Executive Director of EDULEAD Development Initiative, Mr Chinedu Opara said the project was borne out of the need to help fix the deficits in the education sector.

He said the NGO had identified some of the challenges affecting mostly rural education to include teachers’ welfare, security and result outcomes, among others.

According to him, the project tagged “Education DreamGap Project”, will commence in April with focus on five States of the federation in its first phase, which will last for two years.

Opara said that the first phase would concentrate on basic education in ten selected schools  in Kogi, Gombe, Yobe, Imo and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).


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