In commemoration of the 2021 International Education Day, ActionAid Nigeria and other campaigners has urged Federal Government of Nigeria to revise and increase allocation for Education to 15% – 20% of Public Expenditure.
ActionAid made this known in a Press Statement released yesterday 24th January, the United Nations’ Official date for marking International Education Day.
According to the statement, “ActionAid Nigeria and other campaigners view education as a human right as enshrined in article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The declaration calls for free and compulsory elementary education. Nigeria is a signatory to several international treaties including the Convention on the Right of the Child and the Global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which stipulate that countries shall make education accessible to all.
“As a developing nation, education is a vital tool for transformational change and is critical for sustainable development. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic that led to a global disruption of learning, this has affected the lives of many children due to the closure of schools, universities, and other institutions of learning in year 2020. Other factors such as insecurity challenges, socio-economic factors, infrastructural deficit have continued to affect education in the Country.
This year’s theme: ‘Recover and Revitalize Education for the COVID-19 Generation’ hopes to:
- Highlight commitments and follow-up actions taken to protect education through the recovery, increase inclusion and combat drop-out.
- Celebrate initiatives being led by governments, educators, organizations—from global to grassroots efforts—as well as partnerships demonstrating the potential to recommit education to the principles of equity and relevance.
- Highlight best practices in laws and policies on equitable finance for education that effectively and efficiently target the most disadvantaged via a tool featured on UNESCO’s Global Education Monitoring Report website, PEER.
- Give voice to the COVID-19 generation to express their concerns and aspirations in the face of a future marked by an economic recession and climate change.
ActionAid added that, following directives for school reopening in October 2020, the Federal Ministry of Education (FME), the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and other stakeholders developed the national School Reopening Guidelines and readiness template to ensure safe reopening of schools.
The commitment of all stakeholders was sought to ensure states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) meet up with the obligation of ensuring that every child resume to a safe learning environment. These commitments were yet to be met due to the partial or non-compliance to COVID-19 protocols.
Measures such as provision of handwashing points in strategic places within the school environment was not taken. It is a known fact that many of the schools still lack potable or running water for handwashing even at a time like this. Social distancing, even up till now is being hampered by inadequate infrastructure and only very few schools enforce wearing of face mask in the year 2020.
Again, Schools were directed to reopen since the 18th of January 2021 despite the rising cases and death across the nation. Observation has shown that only very few schools are fully complying while inadequate funding, poor infrastructure, lack of water supply and shortage of competent teachers amongst other factors remain key challenges which prevent schools from fully complying with the provisions for safe school reopening. This frustrates the achievement of universal education in the country.
It is upon this background that we join the rest of the world to commemorate this year’s International Education Day and call on the Federal Government to:
- Revise and increase allocation for education to 15% – 20% of public expenditure.
- Increase the tax base by capturing the informal sector to increase resources, working towards a minimum tax to GDP ratio of 20%.
- Provide free quality education for all and halt the dangerous trends of privatization and commercialization of education.
- Ensure inclusive educational systems and institutions.
- Improve the quality of teaching through adequate recruitment, renumeration and continued teacher training and re-training.
- Ensure evaluation of existing safety measures in schools to identify gaps and take corrective measures followed by regular risk assessment at the Federal, State and LGA level.
- Provide leadership and funds to support logistics of monitoring teams at all levels; and enforce compliance to COVID-19 safety rules and measures.
- Braze up security architecture in places where insecurity has affected learning.
With less than a decade to 2030, and in a world thrown into turmoil by COVID-19 pandemic, it is crucial that the Federal Government takes concrete actions to recommit to honoring the UN commitments and mobilize all available resources to deliver on SDG4 thereby ensuring no child is left behind.