PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari appears to have finally woken up to the realisation that there is a crisis in the Nigerian education sector and has order the education ministry to organise a national summit on the matter early next year.
Nigeria currently has 13m children out of school and a total of about 78m Nigerians are reported to live below the global poverty line as a result of a failure to harness the country’s human potential. With about 70% of the Nigerian population being below the age of 30, the youth is seen as the country’s greatest asset but this potential is far from being realised.
Unesco advised Nigeria to spend 26% of its annual budget on education to address the matter but in 2018, only 7% of the country’s expenditure went into the sector. Acknowledging that something drastic needs to be done, President Buhari has directed the Federal Ministry of Education to organise a national summit on research and development by the second quarter of 2020.
Speaking during the convocation ceremony of the Alex Ekwueme Federal University, Ndufu Alike Ikwo, President Buhari, represented by Professor Abubakar Rasheed, the executive secretary of the National Universities Commission, said that the summit would enhance research and development in the country. He added that the summit should draw participants from the academia, industry and top government functionaries.
President Buhari said: “The summit will help in drawing up a draft agenda for the country’s research priorities as our development as a nation can only be concretised if we succeed in getting our research and development priorities right. Development brings about peace and harmony and I call on all universities in the country to support through curriculum re-engineering and academic discourse, government efforts of creating a more peaceful, united and cohesive nation.
“Our diverse nation is confronted with the challenges of a high population growth rate and the academia must guide the thinking and actions that convert these challenges to opportunities. Let us through our thinking, teaching and actions, turn our large, diverse population into a reservoir of human resource capital that will leverage this government’s economic recovery and growth plan.”