From Agaju Madugba, Katsina
The Federal Government has described as unacceptable, the nation’s low level education ranking in Africa arguing that if not redressed, the nation may not produce the necessary manpower to compete with the rest of the world in the 21st century global economy.
“Nigeria has the highest number of out-of-school children in sub-Saharan Africa,” Minister of State for Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, said on Monday in Katsina at the launch of the Better Education Service Delivery for All (BEDSA) programme, a World Bank-assisted project in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Education, among other facilitators.
The Minister listed some of the issues hampering the development of education in the country to include, infrastructure decay, inadequate number of qualified teachers and inadequate instructional facilities.
According to him, “education is critical for national development as it is the only way we can produce adequate manpower to run the country.
“For any country to develop, it must have a well-equipped education system that prepares its people with adequate knowledge to enable them take competitive advantage in the 21st century world economy.
“It is in light of this that we are here to launch BESDA in Katsina State.
“It is a programme that will ensure better life for all our children and the cardinal objective is to increase equitable access, improve literacy and strengthen accountability for results at the basic education level.
“The 17 states that are the focus of this are drawn from seven in the North-West, six in the North-East and one each from each of the other geo-political zones.
“Katsina state is the second highest in ranking of out-of-school children in Nigeria and this is worrisome to all of us.
“There is much to fear if a single child is out of school not to talk about the millions of children that we are talking about in Nigeria.
“We want to ensure that all out-of-school children are back to school which is not only a moral obligation but a productive investment that will guarantee that our country will have sustainable manpower.
“We are poised to do our best in order overcome this challenge as the programme has already enrolled over a million children.”
In his address, Governor Aminu Bello Masari, said that the programme had already started to yield the desired results with the enrolment of some 361,052 children under the project.
According to him, “the design of the programme which is Pay for Result (PR) had made its operation unique that motivates Katsina State to strive more in achieving the desired objectives and to withstand the challenges.
“We have witnessed tremendous achievements and success in terms of infrastructure, provision of instructional materials, recruitment of over 3,500 permanent teachers and engagement of S-Power teachers to Menton but a few.
“This had resulted in in improved learning outcomes of the basic education sector and has subsequently affected students’ performance in the SSCE results.”