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World Bank raises the alarm over learning crisis


Deputy Governor, Kano State, Prof Hafiz Abubakar (left); Executive Director at the Board of the World Bank representing Angola, Nigeria and South Africa, Bongiwe Kunene; Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu; Country Director, World Bank Nigeria, Rachid Benmessaoud, at the launch of the World Development Report on Education in Abuja.

• Launches report on Nigeria

The World Bank Group has raised alarm over looming global learning crisis, saying education is presently tilting towards schooling without learning.This was contained in the World Development Report (WDR) 2018 launched in Abuja in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Finance and Education.The report titled, ‘Learning to realise education promise’ at the International Conference Centre (ICC), Abuja, said schooling without learning was not just a wasted development opportunity, but also a great injustice to children and young people worldwide. 

The report warned that millions of young students in Nigeria and other low and middle-income countries may face the challenge of lost opportunity and lower wages in future as the primary and secondary schools are failing to educate them to succeed in life.For instance, it said among young adults in Nigeria, only about 20 percent of those who completed primary education can read.

“These statistics do not account for 260 million children who for reasons of conflict, discrimination, disability, and other obstacles, are not enrolled in primary or secondary school.

“Without learning, education will fail to deliver on its promise to eliminate extreme poverty and create shared opportunity and prosperity for all. Even after several years in school, millions of children cannot read, write or do basic mathematics. This learning crisis is widening social gaps instead of narrowing them. Young students who are already disadvantaged by poverty, conflict, gender or disability reach young adulthood without even the most basic life skills.

According to the report, “When fourth grade students in Nigeria were asked to complete a simple two-digit subtraction problem, more than three-quarter could not solve it.”When third grade students in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda were asked recently to read a sentence such as “The name of the dog is Puppy” in English or Kiswahili, three-quarter could not provide the name of the dog. Although the skills of Brazilian 15-year-olds have improved, at their current rate of improvement they will not reach the rich-country average score in mathematics for 75 years. In reading, it will take over 260 years.

World Bank Country Director, Rachid Benmessaoud said the situation calls for greater action and coordination of all education stakeholders.He assured that the World Bank Group would continue to support the federal government in its education sector reforms to increase access and improve quality and learning outcomes.“We hope the evidence presented in the WDR will contribute positively to the government’s response in transforming its education system. Every Nigerian child deserves to achieve her full potential and quality education is key to unlocking this.He added that when countries and their leaders make “learning for all” a national priority, education standards can improve dramatically.

Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, in his remarks said, we must not just spend on education; we must see our spending as an investment.“The Federal Ministry of Education after several consultations with stakeholders in the education sector including the World Bank, developed a road map for the education sector captioned ‘Education for Change:  A Ministerial Strategic Plan.’  The plan is built on ten pillars which address the well-known areas of education”

Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun noted that education remains critical to global development and human welfare in every society, especially in Africa and Nigeria, given the state of our development.

According to her, “Several strategies targeted at the education sector are currently being undertaken by the President Muhammadu Buhari administration.  This includes the N-Power programme- the homegrown School Feeding Programme aimed at reducing the number of out -of –school- children, and also the World Bank sponsored Better Education Service Delivery for All (BESDA) programme designed to bring out-of-school-children into the classroom.  There is a need to align all the education programs and actors to achieve this common objective.”

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