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Change Begins With Education

Attitude that Nigeria’s leadership should have of education.

I am strongly persuaded that if we offer automatic scholarship to students who take education, and automatic employment and a preferential compensation package to those who take to teaching as a profession, our system will improve tremendously.

Buhari commissions school in Osun

If we give regulatory agencies the teeth to bite and do their work, mediocre teachers will soon disappear from our classrooms. If we insist on professionalism with appropriate deadlines set for those who teach, the situation will improve phenomenally. We can minimize and in due course eliminate mediocrity in the education sector.

There is need to harmonize the learning and teaching that transpire in our tertiary institutions as well as re-define our national goals periodically.

Since independence and up to the time Your Excellency was military head of state, this nation had had National Development Plan and we must return to development planning if this nation is to develop; or else, it will remain one vast landscape of unconnected contracts, and disconnected researchers unable to connect their work with national development policies and vision.

Already, the Federal Ministry of Education has commenced work in all three areas with the publication of our Ministerial Strategic Plan on education, which anticipated, and is therefore in line with, the recently approved Economic Recovery and Growth Plan.

Our education should drive our national development objectives and we need to carry the universities and other tertiary institutions along. We have to revive our vocational training centres and give our technical schools adequate and requisite attention.

Mr. President, to achieve the desired change that education needs, there is need for improved funding and a measure of political will in national governance. Such is the weight of the problems that beset our education and the deleterious effect it has had on our national development efforts that I believe that this Retreat should end with a declaration of a state of emergency in education so that we can face the challenges frontally and squarely.

These challenges are not insurmountable: what is needed is vastly improved funding accompanied by a strong political will. The strong political will needed to do all this is present in this government. What this government must now do is to make the funds available.

You Excellency, nobody has the moral and resource capacity to intervene promptly, substantially and sustainably in all areas of education provisioning better than the government. Unfortunately, from 1999 to date, the annual budgetary allocation to education has always been between four per cent and ten per cent.

None of the E9 or D8 countries, other than Nigeria, allocates less than 20% of its annual budget to education. Indeed even among sub-Saharan Africa countries, we are trailing far behind smaller and less endowed nations in terms of our investment in education. There is therefore need for a major investment in education in the national interest. A clear guide, Your Excellency, is the costing of the APC campaign promises in education which shows that a minimum of one trillion Naira per annum, over four years, would be required to fulfil your thirteen promises.

Mr. President, Honourable Ministers, I want to once again welcome you all to this Retreat and I thank you for coming to be part of it. I earnestly hope that by the end of this Retreat, we will have arrived at actionable strategies and, hopefully, the declaration of an emergency – that will change the fortunes of education in Nigeria. All change must begin with education, because, if we get education right, other areas of our national life will be right and they will fall in line.

Finally, I also want to appreciate the team of experts that worked strenuously on planning this Retreat. The Team is chaired by His Excellency, Prof. Michael Omolewa, with an array of distinguished stakeholders in the education sector as members. I have not seen more intimidating CVs than theirs – in education or in any other disciplines.

We feel dwarfed by their mere presence, and we were all too pleased that they accepted to help. In preparing this Retreat, they have considered the recommendations of every report ever written on education in Nigeria; because they or their students have written them. And if there is a last ditch effort to rescue education, this is it.

Your Excellency, I do not want to be a barrier between you and what they have to say. I will therefore promptly sit down. Ladies and gentlemen, I thank you for your attention and I wish us all successful deliberations.

Being welcome address by Adamu, Minister of Education, at the Presidential Retreat on Education for Ministers held on November 13, 2017 at Old Banquet Hall, State House, Abuja

Kano state Governor, Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje (right), presenting to pupils the maiden edition of the Kano Basic Education Week, in Kano at the weekend

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