By Felix Khanoba
The Federal Government says the number of out-of-school children in Nigeria has dropped from 10.1 million in 2019-2020 to 6. 9 million.
The government’s hinged the self-proclaimed feat largely on its newly introduced programme- Better Education Service Delivery For All (BESDA).
Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, who disclosed this at the 2020 Annual Ministerial Press Briefing on Thursday in Abuja, also revealed that a total of 1.7 trillion has been spent on tertiary education institutions in the country since the coming of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.
Adamu said the injection of such huge amounts of money for capital projects in tertiary education institutions, was the highest in the history of the country.
Speaking further, the minister said through BESDA programme the Federal Government secured a World Bank credit facility to the tune of 611 million dollars to strengthen Universal Basic Education.
According to him, the programme which has been launched in ten states so far-Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Ebonyi, Kano, Kebbi, Oyo, Yobe, Niger and Zamfara also helped to increase additional enrolment of 1,053,422 children.
“As at today, we have recorded impressive school enrolment figures in 17 states of the Federation where BESDA is being implemented.
“I can however tell you that through the BESDA initiative, we have reduced the figure of Out-of School children from 10.1 million since May last year down to 6,946,328 million,” he said.
He said government is working on an instrument that will also make it an offence for any adult illiterate not to be undertaking any form of learning.
“The phenomenon of adult illiterates is equally disturbing. The children of illiterate parents are 80 percent more prone to be out of school than the children of the educated. Estimated at about 60 million, adult illiterates constitute almost a third of the Nigerian population.”
He said the ugly development prompted the education ministry to develop a curriculum in basic literacy and numeracy in English, Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba while efforts are underway for the development of supplementary and further reading materials in English and three major Nigerian languages.
On the interventions in tertiary institutions, Adamu said: “Holistically, the five and half years of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration has witnessed massive investment in capital projects in tertiary institutions totaling approximately 1.7 trillion in tertiary institutions with the universities taking two third of the total sum.
“In the history of Nigeria, no administration this quantum of money in our tertiary institutions.”
On the issue of harmonising academic calendars and national examinations, the minister said following the outbreak of COVID-19, there is need to harmonize schools and examination calendars across board.
He revealed that the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB), West African Examination Council (WAEC), National Examinations Council (NECO) and National Business and Technical Examination Board (NABTEB) will come with one examination calendar to avoid conflicting dates in national exams.
“Consequently, a National Committee on the harmonisation of schools and examination calendars will be constituted. The committee which will comprise NECO, WAEC, NABTEB, JAMB and representative of private school owners among others will be inaugurated next week,” the Minister said.
The annual ministerial briefing of the education ministry, had in attendance dignitaries including Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, Minister of State for Health, Dr . Olurunnimbe Mamora, Miinister of Humanitarian Affairs, Sadiya Umar Farouk, Minister of Special Duties, George Akume, among several others.