The Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) has expressed support for a call for a state of emergency in the education sector.
Speaking at the National Conference on the Learning Crisis in Nigeria in Abuja on Wednesday, the NGF chairman, Governor Abdulrazaq Abdulrahman of Kwara, said resources must be provided for sustainable and promising education.
The conference, organised by the Federal Ministry of Education in collaboration with the United Nations Children’s Fund, has the theme: “Scaling Foundational Literacy and Numeracy in Nigeria.”
Represented by the NGF vice chairman, Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State, Mr Abdulrahman said education is in crisis and a state of emergency should be declared in the sector.
He stressed the need to remove all barriers, such as gender, poverty, location, disabilities, language, and ethnicity, that could hinder children from accessing foundational literacy and numeracy.
“We must follow the UNESCO standard for an education system that is progressive and sustainable. Governors in the various states must commit above 15 per cent of our budget to education.
“I support the call for a state of emergency, but it must be backed by actions, the resources must be provided, and we must look at issues that have mitigated against achieving sustainable growth,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Minister of State for Education, Yusuf Sununu, said the learning crisis had been a challenge the education sector is faced with, which needs urgent solutions.
“In recent years, Nigeria has been grappling with a severe learning crisis that hinders our youth from achieving their fullest potential.
“A significant portion of our school-aged population, especially those in underserved communities, face barriers to access quality education.
“The factors contributing to this crisis are multifaceted and include inadequate infrastructure, teacher shortage, unequal
distribution of resources, outdated curricula, and socio-economic disparities,” he said.
Mr Sununu expressed the political will of President Bola Tinubu to raise education budgetary allocation from eight to 25 per cent in the next few years.
In the same vein, UNICEF Representative in Nigeria, Cristian Munduate, said the conference was from the outcomes of the UN General Assembly in September, where countries were urged to accelerate progress on Sustainable Development Goal 4.
Ms Munduate said this is to regain ground lost during the COVID-19 pandemic that saw unprecedented school closures globally.
“Just as Nigeria has galvanised significant support around the out-of-school problem, so too must it give attention to the learning crisis that is, in fact, fueling the out-of-school problem in Nigeria.
“Three out of four children in basic education in Nigeria cannot read with meaning or solve simple math problems,” she said.