The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has said that 75 percent of Nigerian children, aged between seven and 14, cannot read a simple sentence or solve a basic math problem.
The UN Agency recently said this in a statement by its Country Representative, Ms. Christian Munduate, to mark International Education Day this year.
Echoing the global call to “invest in people, prioritize education”, he urged Nigeria to honor commitments made by President Muhammadu Buhari at the United Nations Secretary-General’s Transformative Education Summit in September 2022 to end to the global learning crisis.
Munduate expressed concern that “in Nigeria, 75 per cent of children aged seven to 14 cannot read a simple sentence or solve a basic math problem. For children to read to learn, they must be able to learn to read in the first three years of school.” Unfortunately, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has also put the number of children out of school in Nigeria at 20 million.
In the considered opinion of this newspaper, it is a sad comment that 75 per cent of Nigerian children between the ages of seven and 14 cannot read a simple sentence or solve a basic math problem. In fact, this is a clear indication of the dire state of education in Nigeria and the urgent need to find lasting solutions to the problem.
A major contributing factor to this problem is the lack of funding for education. Despite the fact that the government has allocated a significant part of the national budget to education, it is not enough to adequately meet the needs of Nigerian children.
It is instructive to note that UNESCO recommends that developing countries allocate 15 to 20 percent of their annual budget to public education. Experts are concerned that the education budget between 2016 and 2022 indicates that the sector has not received the recommended 15 percent.
In fact, the lack of resources such as textbooks, qualified teachers, and adequate infrastructure has led to poor quality education. Another major problem is the lack of accountability for educational outcomes. The government must hold schools and teachers accountable for the education of their students, as well as ensure that educational standards are met.
In our view, this could be achieved through regular inspections and evaluations of schools, as well as providing incentives for schools and teachers that achieve high educational results.
In addition, the government must also invest in the training and professional development of teachers. Many teachers in Nigeria lack the necessary skills and qualifications to provide quality education. By investing in teacher training programs and providing ongoing professional development opportunities, teachers will be better equipped to deliver the quality learning Nigerian children deserve.
In addition, it is pertinent to increase the participation of communities in the educational system. Community involvement can help ensure that schools are well equipped and that children attend school. Parents, community leaders, and other community members can play a critical role in ensuring that schools have the resources they need to provide a quality education.
We also call on government at all levels to invest in technology to improve education. The use of technology can help improve the quality of education by providing access to a wide range of educational resources and tools. This includes the use of digital textbooks, educational software, and online learning platforms.
Consequently, it is important to recognize that education is a long-term investment. Solving this problem will not be easy, as it will require sustained effort and commitment from all stakeholders. The government, educators, parents and community leaders must work together to ensure that Nigerian children receive the education they deserve. This can be achieved through a comprehensive approach that addresses all factors contributing to the problem, including funding, accountability, teacher training, community engagement, and use of technology.
The fact that 75 percent of Nigerian children between the ages of seven and 14 cannot read a simple sentence or solve a basic math problem is a tragic reality that should serve as a wake-up call to all. This problem requires immediate attention and action by all concerned. By addressing the underlying issues of funding, accountability, teacher training, community engagement and technology, we can work together to ensure that all Nigerian children receive a quality education.
Unfortunately, in our view, resources that would have gone into the sector are increasingly being wasted through reprehensibly corrupt systems. That is the Gordian knot that must be cut for the sector to survive and flourish.