‘Access to qualitative education, imperative for meaningful development’
Country Manager, WorldRemit Nigeria, Gbenga Okejimi, has declared that access to quality education is imperative to equip people with the requisite skills and knowledge required for meaningful development.
According to Okejimi, a skilled population can drive technological advancement for food security, environmental protection, improved health care, safer payments systems, connecting communities and, more importantly, advancing education in an ever-changing world.
However, he lamented that there are barriers, relating to financial, cultural, gender; health and security, which have continued to keep children out of school.
He noted that the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic further exacerbated these challenges, driving massive disruptions that affected over 1.6 billion learners across the world, especially children in underserved communities. Data made available by UNICEF placed the number of out-of-school children in Nigeria at 10.5 million.
The 2021 WorldRemit ‘Back-to-School’ study revealed that among 10 countries, Nigeria was the most impacted by the disparity between average household income, fertility rates and cost of education.
Apart from government spending, diaspora remittances are a huge source of development finance, part of which is invested by recipients to advance educational goals. Many families, friends and relations have access to education because of the money sent home by the diaspora community.
WorldRemit’s international money transfer service continues to create a channel for the flow of remittances. The funds received from abroad provide an additional source of income that can be used to upgrade school resources like books and stationery.
He said: “We saw how the outbreak of the pandemic fast-tracked digital adoption across the board, and while many could not afford the technology required, diaspora remittances provided a lifeline for many to access critical technology required to limit disruptions to their education. This will not only be relevant for the COVID-19 era but also for the future of education.”
Reflecting on the effects of the pandemic on education, Okejimi said government at all levels, institutions, organisations and citizens should prioritise the security of school children more than ever before.
“There is an urgent need to deepen the resilience of our educational systems by sustaining remittances and limiting disruptions to inflow from abroad. Additionally, as recommended by UNESCO, everyone needs to commit to a new social contract for education; delivering solutions that encourage people to uphold human rights and allow non-discriminatory access to education.
“The ripple effect gained from an educated population and the role of diaspora remittances hold huge benefits for the world today and the future. All hands must be on deck to ensure that we can continue reaping the rewards therein,” he said.