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Adamu counters UNESCO, says Nigeria will achieve UPE before 2070

By Eno-Abasi Sunday (Lagos), and Abosede Musari (Abuja)
29 September 2016   |   2:21 am
Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, says the prediction by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), that the country would not achieve Universal Primary Education (UPE) until 2070...
Education Minister, Malam Adamu Adamu

Education Minister, Malam Adamu Adamu

Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, says the prediction by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), that the country would not achieve Universal Primary Education (UPE) until 2070, would not come to pass, as the Federal Government remains committed to working towards reversing the prediction.

According to the latest edition of The Global Education Monitoring Report (the GEM Report), on current trends, Nigeria will achieve Universal Primary Education (UPE) in 2070, Universal Lower Secondary Completion (ULSC) in 2080 and Universal Upper Secondary Education (UUSC) in the next century.

The report further states that based on current trends, UPE, which is supposed to have been achieved in 2015, under the 2000 Dakar Education For All agreement, won’t be achieved until 2042. ULSC won’t be achieved until 2059, and UUSC will only be attained in 2084.

Even though rich countries are not on course either, the poorest countries will reach universal primary education over 100 years later than their rich counterparts. In fact, even at the fastest rate of progress ever seen in the region, one in 10 countries in Europe and North America would still not achieve UUSC by 2030.

Nigeria and 19 other countries with the slowest progress are all in sub-Saharan Africa. They won’t achieve ULSC until next century. The first non-African country on the bottom of the infamous list is Honduras, which is expected to complete hers’ in 2095.

Denmark, the United States, Switzerland and Ireland, will all achieve UUSC in 2035, on par with Kazakhstan. Sweden, Belgium, Germany, and New Zealand will be 10 years late, on par with Mongolia. France will be 15 years late, on par with the Philippines. Greece will be 20 years late, on par with Tajikistan and Saudi Arabia.

Among other things, that report further show education’s potential to propel progress towards all global goals outlined in the new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (SDGs), as well as shows that education needs a major transformation to fulfill that potential and meet the current challenges facing humanity and the planet.

But speaking at the public presentation of the Education 2030 Framework for Action, an event which also featured the launching of the Global Education Monitoring Report 2016, in Abuja on Tuesday, the minister said he would work with relevant stakeholders and UN bodies to ensure the prediction does not come true.

To achieve this, Adamu stated that all approaches adopted for the implementation of the SDG Four must align with the country’s education policy priorities, commitments, plans and needs.

He also said that a steering committee would be established at the national level, to coordinate and monitor the implementation of the SDG Four, otherwise referred to as the Education 2030 Agenda.

“The government of Nigeria is committed to ensuring that Nigeria achieves the targets set for SDG 4, Education 2030 Agenda, and all the other 16 goals by 2030. We are not unaware of the challenges that will be encountered, but with the cooperation of all stakeholders, we are equal to the task.

“Regrettably, the report predicts that our country, going by current trends, will only achieve its universal primary education by 2070. We must not allow this prediction to come to pass. This calls for concerted efforts and initiatives that will address our current challenges, including out-of-school children, gender disparities, low enrolment and retention, inadequate infrastructure and poor teacher quality among others,” he said.

Adamu added that if the “Education for Change: A Ministerial Action Plan (2016-2019),” is supported and fully implemented by all stakeholders, Nigeria will be able to achieve all the global targets by 2030.

Meanwhile, the Report, titled “Education for People and Planet: Creating sustainable futures for all”, enumerated the current state of Nigeria’s education, as well as those of other countries.

Other highlights of the report include the fact that less than 10 per cent of poor rural females youths can read in Nigeria, Guinea, Mali and Burkina Faso. The situation is worse in Niger, where less than two per cent can read.

It also reveals that children, schools and teachers have increasingly remained in the front line of crisis, especially in the North East, where more than 910 schools were destroyed between 2009 and 2015 as a result of Boko Haram insurgency. Within same period, at least 1,500 more schools were forced to close.

“By early 2016, an estimated 952,029 school age children had fled the violence. Teachers are at risk. As of 2015 in Nigeria, where Boko Haram has targeted education workers and students, at least 611 teachers had been deliberately killed and 19,000 forced to flee since 2009,” the report read.

UNESCO Regional Director, Benoit Sossou, in his remarks said that dearth of education is the second problem the planet faces, which makes education a universal agenda for all countries.

Aside from basic education, he also advised countries in sub-Saharan Africa to focus on tertiary education.