UNICEF commends FG on increase in education budget
As Nigerian join the rest to commemorate the 2022 International Day of Education, the UN Children Fund (UNICEF) has commended the Federal Government’s declaration to increase annual domestic education expenditure.
The organisation also praised the government for increasing the education budget by 50 per cent over the next two years, and by 100 per cent by 2025.
In a message to commemorate the day, UNICEF Representative in Nigeria, Peter Hawkins, said in Nigeria’s N17 trillion 2022 budget signed into law, 7.2 per cent was allocated to the education sector.
Hawkins said that was a step in the right direction as the sector experienced an increase from 5.7 per cent allocated for 2021.
The official said that the country’s education system could be transformed through adequate funding to ensure schools are safe.
The country representative said there was also the need for the application of gender-responsive policies, including recruitment of female teachers and improved facilities for girls.
He said that there was still a long way to go to reach the internationally recommended benchmark that countries spend 15-20 per cent of their national budgets on education.
“The Nigerian Government has committed to increasing funding for education, which is a very important step, far too many Nigerian children today are not in the classroom.
“And for those who are, far too many are not getting a solid education that can translate into good prospects for their futures.
“At least 10.5 million children are out of school in Nigeria – the highest rate in the world. A full one-third of Nigerian children are not in school, and one in five out-of-school children in the world are Nigerian.
“While the education crisis in Nigeria is affecting children across the country, some children are more likely to be affected than others,’’ he said.
He said that girls, children with disabilities, children from the poorest households, in street situations, or affected by displacement or emergencies, and children in geographically distant areas are all disproportionately affected by the education.
“Millions of Nigerian children have never set foot in a classroom and this is a travesty.
“Perhaps equally tragic is the high number of children who make it into a classroom, but never make the transition from primary school to secondary school, thereby cutting off their chances for a secure future.
“It is estimated that 35 per cent of Nigerian children, who attend primary school, do not go on to attend secondary school. Half of all Nigerian children did not attend secondary school in 2021.
“As we celebrate today amid concerns in much of the world about the impact of COVID-19 on education, we must take a close look at what is happening to our children in Nigeria.
“We need to look towards community’s leaders, parents, teachers and caregivers and together, find the best strategies to get ensure that all children enroll into school,’’ he added.
He also said that there was need to ensure access to continuous learning and ensure they emerge with quality skills that could equip them for a prosperous future.
He said that the government must ensure that girls have access to learning so they can receive an education that would begin to address issues of gender inequality.
“ All girls have much to offer to find solutions to Nigeria’s challenges and we have to nurture their creativity and innovation.
“We also need to ensure that children are safe when they are in school.
“No child should be afraid to enter a classroom, afraid their school might be attacked or that they will be kidnapped. And no parent should fear sending their children to school,’’ he added.
He, therefore, said that all Nigerian children deserved a fighting chance no matter who they are or where they are, saying that this fighting chance must be education.