By Misbahu Bashir
The Federal Government recently presented a draft of education reform plan tagged ‘education for change; a ministerial strategic plan (2015-2019)’ to stakeholders and development partners in Abuja, in an attempt to improve the quality of education output. The draft according to the Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, contained the key challenges and issues facing Nigeria’s education system and the ministry’s perspective on each of them.
He said the Buhari administration envisions a Nigerian education system that prepares its children for responsibilities of citizenship and national development and that a radical change in education delivery was an imperative for 21st Century knowledge driven economy.
Government actually prepared the draft following myriad of problems confronting education including absence of reliable data to support effective planning, inadequate support for girl-child education, non-functional curriculum at the tertiary education level, low access to basic education, poor teacher education and unattractive reward system as well as proliferation of unregulated state schools.
The stakeholders which include ministry’s department and agencies, state ministries of education, State Universal Basic Education Boards (SUBEBs) and non-governmental organizations were expected to examine the draft and highlight some issues related to their activities in various parts of the country and how they can link up with the ministry’s strategies and priorities.
The draft focused on few aspects of the education sector which the minister said were of high priority. They include out-of-school children, basic education, teacher education, adult literacy, curriculum and policy matters on basic and secondary education, technical and vocational education, education data planning, library services and ICT in education.
On out-of-school children, the minister said in spite of the steady growth of both government and donor-driven educational interventions, Nigeria, with 11.4 million out-of-school children out of 20 million worldwide, has the highest number of out-of-school children. They include girl-child, almajiri-child, children of nomadic pastoralists and migrant fishermen as well as children displaced by Boko Haram insurgency. He said while efforts have to some extent corrected the longstanding pattern of discrimination in access to education and attempt to produce more equitable distribution of schools and teachers in some cases, (girl-child, nomadic-child and almajiri-child) they have hardly affected the reality of low attendance and completion rates among the marginalized groups.
“60% of the 11.4 million out-of-school children in Nigeria are girls. Only a fraction (17%) of 3.1 million nomadic children of school age has access to basic education despite decades of intervention. Similarly, only a small proportion of the ministry’s 2010 estimate of 9.5 million almajiri children have access to any basic education and an increasing number of displaced children ( about 1 million) are being forced out of school in the insurgency-stricken states,” he said.
He said the draft had proposed strategies for engaging with state in addressing the problems of out-of-school children. Government planned to raise the national Net Enrolment Rate (NET) by enrolling 2,875,000 pupils annually for the next four years as well as renovate schools destroyed by Boko Haram insurgency and construct additional 71, 874 classrooms annually for the next four years. Also, government planned to provide additional 71, 875 qualified teachers through the deployment of 14% of the new teachers to be recruited annually and raise the enrolment of girls in basic education schools by 1.5 million girls annually for the next four years. There was a plan in the draft to deploy 7.5% (37,500) female teachers of the 500,000 teachers to be recruited by the government annually to serve as role models for female pupils.