New Telegraph

Basic Education: FG Enrolls 2m Out-Of-School Almajiri Children In Six-Month

…to infuse skills, and digitisation into education system

...targets crash in private fees through public schools reform

The Federal Government on Tuesday revealed that no fewer than 2 million Almajiri children have been lifted from the street and enrolled in school, and Arabic literacy programmes to acquire basic education, and vocational training.

Minister of Education, Prof. Tahir Mamman made the disclosure at the maiden quarterly Citizens and Stakeholders Engagement on Nigerian Education Sector Ministerial deliverables, where he reeled out several achievements recorded in the last six months since assumption of office, under the 23 deliverables handed down by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to the ministry.

According to him, the mechanism established by the Ministry for Inter-governmental Relations had helped in building public-private partnerships and brought about an increment in school enrollment, transition and completion for learners especially those with disabilities.

Mamman who noted that the reduction of out-of-school children in Nigeria was one of the major focus of the current administration, gave assurances that before the end of the year, many more children out of school would be brought back to acquire learning and skills.

He said: “2,000,000 out-of-school children, Almajiri’s were enrolled in basic education and an Arabic literacy programme with vocational training. Developed the guidelines and training manuals for the implementation of inclusive basic education in Nigeria.

“These have increased access, enrollment and retention completion of both basic, secondary and tertiary school levels ”

The minister also revealed that in the last six months, 70,674 teachers and non-teaching staff from across all levels of academic and non-academic training institutes were trained, 2,122 students were awarded Nigerian scholarship awards, 2,889 students studying abroad benefitted from bursary awards amongst other scholarships.

In addition, the minister revealed that the ministry was on the verge of signing a Memorandum of Understanding with the private firm on the PPP model, to overcome the challenges of data confronting the education sector.

While lamenting that students were receding into illiteracy, Mamman said one way to address the learning crisis in the country was to infuse skills and digitisation into the education system beginning from primary schools. To this end, he said there was a need to review the curriculum to accommodate new teaching methods that give room for skills and digitisation.

“With all these, you will find a different education system, a different method of teaching and of course, a different outcome for our children. This is why this is so critical.

“We cannot go into the next century with this situation; students who cannot think, who cannot communicate amongst themselves, who cannot collaborate, who don’t have these soft skills and have problems with access to digital facilities.

“That’s why we have so many out-of-school children because first, they don’t see the value of going to school so we want to introduce skills and digitization from primary school. Those of us who went to school especially ’60s and ’70s were beneficiaries of what was then called comprehensive Secondary Schools where there were regular courses. There was a section on commerce and there was a separate section on trades.”

Mamman thus revealed that the draft national skills framework for the education sector currently underway with development partners, should be completed by August this year.

While stating that he discovered there were so many policies covering every aspect lying fallow at the education ministry, the minister noted that the Permanent Secretary and all directors in the ministry have been charged to ensure the policies were fully implemented.

“These policies are the mandate of Nigerians. If we are able to implement those policies, Nigeria will be a better place.”

Confident of the ministry’s ability to continue to drive positive outcomes in the education sector, the minister gave assurances that in no distant time, private schools would be forced to crash their high fees as patronage would shift to public schools as a result of the ongoing reforms in the sector.

“In Rwanda, because of very massive reform in the public education system, the private schools are struggling to survive. I can assure you that by the time we are done by God’s Grace, I am not saying private sector schools will close down no, I don’t wish them that but they will have to scale down their fees because the public sector will witness such a turnaround that you will not need to spend millions of Naira sending your child to a private school.”

Minister of State for Education, Yusuf Sununu, said while it was critical to let citizens know about the ministry’s achievement in the programmes and projects assigned to the ministry by President Tinubu, it was equally important to listen to the perception of stakeholders and get suggestions on more areas requiring urgent attention and priority focus.

“This engagement is aimed at creating awareness of the Federal Ministry of Education’s inclusive development efforts. It will also promote mutual understanding with stakeholders and citizens; build and sustain public trust; and improve transparency and accountability in the Sector.

“Worthy of mention is that this engagement also aims to improve efficiency and streamline government operations by identifying and addressing bottlenecks. This is expected to lead to more effective resource allocation, Improved service delivery and buy-in of major stakeholders in the educational programs of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s Administration.

“We quite believe that there is a need for a strong team approach in addressing the numerous challenges confronting our education sector. Education being a tool for individual, community, country and global development cannot be treated in isolation. It was in realization of this that the International Labor Organization classified Education as an exportable commodity. By extension, therefore, the need for both local and international collaboration becomes a necessity.”

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