Former president, Olusegun Obasanjo, has lamented that an estimated 14 million Nigerian children of school age were being denied education.
“They are deprived of opportunities that will allow them to develop their abilities and become useful to themselves and their communities. It is evident that at this point, to transform our education system in a sustainable way, Nigerian youths must take up leadership positions,” he said.
Obasanjo who spoke at the virtual 2020 fellowship graduation ceremony of the second cohort of “Teach for Nigeria Fellows” in Lagos at the weekend, noted that the outbreak of Coronavirus had exacerbated the problem of education in the country even as it has put the world at its knees as the nations strive to develop a vaccine and successful treatments for the disease.
“So far, the damage in Africa has been moderate, but if we relax, the African continent can become the worst affected from the economic fallout of the crisis” Obasanjo said.
He said the nation’s education system was in crisis before the pandemic.
“The outbreak has exacerbated the ever-widening gulf between the learning opportunities of our most privileged children and our less privileged children. To close the dangerous gap as a nation, we require prompt action from well-meaning Nigerians imbued with courage, patriotism, commitment, foresight and love,” he said.
An NGO, “Teach For Nigeria” which focuses on developing a movement of leaders across Nigeria who are committed to putting an end to educational inequity, graduated 161 fellows who have impacted approximately 9,660 students in 80 schools across Lagos, Ogun, and Kaduna states.
According to the former president, Nigerian youths must champion different innovative solutions at every level of the society and across different sectors.
He advised the fellows to continue to leverage their acquired skills and experiences to advocate for educational excellence in the country.
The former president urged them to be ambassadors for change, driving the movement for freedom and justice in Nigeria.
“Please do not let anybody tell you that you are leaders of tomorrow, you are leaders today.”
Folawe Omikunle, chief executive officer, Teach For Nigeria, said the graduating fellows had spent the past two years improving the academic outcomes of their pupils.