Who else did not remember to commemorate across their social media pages the international education day last week? Well, I am also guilty.
Celebrated globally, many countries had last week, recognized and celebrated achievements brought about through the aegis of their education sector. Unfortunately, Nigeria can only commemorate this day on a sad note.
Let me remind you that Nigeria has a world record of 10.5 million children out of school across the country – the highest rate in the world! The extent to which this mind-blowing figure is fuelling numerous societal ills can only be imagined.
Dedicated to education, the International Day of Education is an annual international ceremony held on January 24 in recognition of the function education plays in giving rise to global peace and sustainable development. The United Nations General Assembly declared January 24 as International Day of Education on December 3, 2018.
However, a glance at our failing education system emphasizes how little we have left to celebrate.
In recent years, education has especially suffered the consequences of insecurity which has drastically contributed to learning losses. Schools have been closed, lives have been lost, not to mention the recent pandemic that has chewed at the already decaying system.
Last year, about 25 schools were attacked, leading to the abduction of 1,440 children and 16 children were killed. In the same year, 618 schools were closed in six northern states including Sokoto, Zamfara, Kano, Katsina, Niger, and Yobe as a precaution to avoid attack and abduction of pupils and staff.
Globally, the Covid-19 imposed lockdown that took place in 2020 revolutionalized the education system by introducing digital and online education as an alternative. However, this has fuelled inequities in the education sector. Learners, especially from the rural areas neither have access to the digital world nor possess the ability and technical know-how to utilize it even when presented with the opportunity.
For this reason, many students were left behind with nothing to do but wait until the lockdown was relaxed. The gap this has created cannot be overemphasized.
Equally detrimental to this sector is that of poor funding. This persisting setback has been all but addressed. At all levels of government in Nigeria, education is poorly funded. In 2020 for instance, Nigeria’s education budget was far below the benchmark of 26% of the national budget recommended by the United Nations.
The myriads of problems facing the education sector in Nigeria cannot be exhausted in this little piece. How else do we celebrate January 24?
At this juncture, it becomes crucial to tackle these pressing issues so as to coordinate responses and activities in the sector. There is a need for the government to elevate the diminishing image of education by ensuring the deliverance of high-quality education across Nigeria. This can be achieved through the implementation of new education policies, better-trained teachers and professional teaching personnel involved, provision of all required learning facilities at all levels as well as keeping vigil on matters concerning the sector.