A London conference on Monday told the Nigerian government to upscale its investment in education to pull the West African country out of endemic poverty.
Speaking at a colloquium, marking Nigeria’s 62nd Independence, the keynote speaker, Mrs Ibironke Adeagbo, said that Nigeria could only turn the corner if adequate investment was made in education.
Adeagbo is a Chartered Accountant and Chief Executive Officer of the UK charity, IA-Foundation, which is active in Nigeria.
According to her, Nigeria has not been able to fund education adequately over the years, in spite of its position as Africa’s top economy and crude oil exporter.
She said that in spite of the rich natural endowments of the country, which is also Africa’s most populous nation, the country had continued to wallow in poverty and underdevelopment after 62 years of independence.
Citing the worrisome statistics released recently by UNESCO that 20.2 million children in Nigeria were currently out of school, Adeagbo said that no magic would make economic development to foster in the country.
“We have 20.2 million children who are not in school in Nigeria, ranking among India and Pakistan — how can our economy grow? Education and economic development go hand-in-hand.
“The huge number of out-of-school children in Nigeria is negatively impacting the nation’s economy and the standard of living of the people,’’ she added.
The child’s rights advocate argued that the high rate of children who cannot access quality education is also responsible for the festering insecurity in the country.
According to her, insecurity in the country has been hampering economic development and pushing many people in the vast nation into desperate want and poverty.
She charged the Federal Government to rise to the challenge of getting its citizens to embrace quality education “because the more educated people are the better their chances of building the economy’’.
Adeagbo decried what she described as the prevailing poor state of Nigeria’s education system, saying that it was characterized by distorted learning, poor infrastructure, unqualified teachers and incessant strikes.
The IA-Foundation founder argued that the way out was for Nigeria to increase its budgetary allocation to education year-on-year and also introduce policies that would make education attractive to citizens.
“Parents, who fail to send their children to school should be punished to make everyone to benefit from the education opportunities offered by the government,’’ she stated.
According to her, Nigeria needs to invest in human capital development through formal and informal education and ensure that education takes its pride of place.
Adeagbo said that IA-Foundation, had been doing its utmost to be part of the solution of the crisis in the education sector in Nigeria through street campaigns to bring children back to classrooms.
“We currently have many children that we have taken off the streets in Lagos, Abuja, Kwara, Delta, Oyo State and Ogun.
“We have been to IDP camps and schools of the blind and disabled to distribute learning materials and we are doing our best to ensure that we remove the barriers to accessing quality education,” she said.