President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, GCFR, has committed to raising the budgetary allocation to education sector from paltry five percent to 25 percent, in line with his Renewed Hope agenda that places education as a major priority.
The Honourable Minister of Education (HME), Professor Tahir Mamman, SAN, made the closure, on Monday 11th August, 2023, while delivering an opening address at Nigeria’s Annual Education Conference, NAEC, in Abuja. The event was convened for stakeholders to deliberate on enhancing entrepreneurial skills, and vocational and technical education in Nigerian schools.
He said that the Federal Government was determined to initiate a new creative means of funding tertiary education by granting universities the autonomy to explore new sources of financing their activities.
Professor Mamman, who applauded the foresight of the conveners, said that the the essence of the conference spoke to President Bola Tinubu’s vision of promoting technical and vocational education as a means of absorbing the millions of young school leavers who completed primary and secondary schools every year but could not get admission to universities, other tertiary institutions or employed with ease.
The Minister, who said he was delighted to be at the event, explained that:”My delight is underscored by the fact that this conference is taking place shortly after my swearing-in as the Federal Minister of Education and at this early stage when my colleague, Minister of State, Dr. Hon. Yusuf Tanko Sununu and myself are developing a template to define a strategic road map for the education sector which when unfolded, we all will have responsibility to implement.”
He stressed that Mr. President had publicly declared his commitment to overhaul the education sector as a matter of priority, it was, therefore, important that the Federal Ministry of Education and all stakeholders in the sector worked together to see this vision come true, adding that the day of long declarations were over, this time, ‘‘we must work the talk’’.
Professor Mamman noted that “today’s conference provides an opportunity for me to meet you, the pillars of the Nigerian education system and for us to restate our resolve to implement fundamental changes in the education sector for the benefit of the young, adult and the entire society.
Your presence at this event at short notice is an indication of the importance you attach to the growth and development of the sector in Nigeria. Your presence, in this regard must be appreciated.”
The Minister further noted that the theme for the conference “Implementation of Education 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in Nigeria” would always remain relevant until the country achieved 100% of the targets set in the Sustainable Development Goals 2030 and beyond to education related indicators and targets of Agenda 2060 of the African Union.
He explained that as a signatory to the SDG 2030 and AU Agenda 2060, Nigeria must continue to demonstrate it’s commitment to achieving these goals through leadership and ownership of the implementation process.
The Education sector, he said, was one of the line sectors that ensured that planning and budgeting in the country were within the framework of the SDGS.
He expressed his delight that the technical sessions had been structured to address very contemporary and topical issues in the education sector in Nigeria, saying that discussions to be held on Tertiary education in Nigeria which was expected to focus on emerging trends, including University Autonomy and Students Loans Fund as well as education financing aligned perfectly with President Tinubu’s vision for the sector.
The HME told the gathering that Mr. President was determined, among others, to initiate a new creative means of funding tertiary education by granting universities the autonomy to explore new sources of financing their activities. He urged the participants to take a deep robust review of the system and devise ways for a more quality education, accessible to all, notwithstanding any physical, environmental and emerging challenges and with a peaceful setting.
“In proposing and developing implementation strategies, also provide mechanisms for constant monitoring and evaluation, to ensure goals are achieved. Therefore, I do expect that the report of this conference would contain strategies with clearly defined targets and measurable indicators that would be derived from very realistic deliverables. I have deliberately refrained from mentioning the challenges in the education sector because you are expected to be aware of them and that is why you are gathered here today”, the Minister said.
Professor Maman added that “you must be aware of a committee with the same name established some days ago by the Hon Ministers. It’s work and the outcome of the Ministers briefings from the Directors of the Ministry and Heads of all parastatals would be concluded with a major policy direction for the sector within the context of the Renewed Hope Agenda of President Ahmed Bola Tinubu.
He explained that it was part of the plans of the FME to give robust attention to the foundations of the education system, that was basic and secondary schools, saying that the Ministry would also ensure that knowledge and skills were sufficient in all strata of education from basic to university to ensure students could easily be contributors to the economy without having to look for salaried employments.
The Minister appreciated Commissioners from the States’ Ministries of Education Chairmen, States’ Universal Basic Education Boards, Directors, Chief Executives of Parastatals, and the national and international collaborators for gracing the occasion, to brainstorm on the possible ways to improve and harness quality education in Nigeria. He drew attention of stakeholders to the constitutional provision which he noted, provided for education as a concurrent matter involving all tiers of government.
The Minister charged the stakeholders to make their partnerships and collaboration work for the benefit of their various organizations, tiers of government and most importantly the Nigerian people, because, education was, and remained, the hub of all “our national developmental efforts.”
“To achieve this, we also have the good fortune of support of our local and international partners for which we would always continue to be appreciative.
“Although I did not see this as one of the themes for discussion, but I want to assume that in the course of your deliberations issues relating to the unacceptable number of out of school children and girl child education would find a place. The President Ahmed Bola Tinubu is truly concerned also about this and has, in fact, given the Ministry and relevant agencies to address the problem. We want to hear from this gathering, strategies and methods with time lines, how this scourge can and must be solved.
In line with, he said that the current administration would spare no effort in putting in place systematic approaches to funding, accountability and “my improved learning outcomes would also want to work effectively with the state governments to strengthen the mechanism for ensuring that state actors live up to their responsibilities.”
He called on all stakeholders of the education sector to work with the Federal Ministry of Education and agencies as well as state ministries of education and their agencies to identify innovative approaches for improved funding and ensuring inclusive equitable, quality education and life-long opportunities.”
In his remarks, the Permanent Secretary, FME, Mr. Andrew David Adejo, explained that the 2021 and 2022 edition of the conference could not hold because of Covid-19 pandemic and the need to also incorporate the agenda of the new government in the recommendations.
The Permanent Secretary, who was represented by the Director of Information and Communication Technology (ICT), Mal Abubakar Isah, urged stakeholders to deliberate on collaborations towards actualizing the 2020 education agenda.