A non-governmental organisation, ActionAid Nigeria, has called on the federal government to revise and increase allocation for education to between 15 per cent and 20 per cent of public expenditure.
It also asked the government to provide free quality education for all and halt the dangerous trends of privatisation and commercialisation of education in the country.
The group stated this in a statement by its Communications Coordinator, Lola Ayanda, on Tuesday to mark the 2021 International Education Day.
ActionAid said Nigeria, as a signatory to the Convention on the Right of the Child and the Global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), should make education readily accessible to all children as these treaties stipulate.
The statement said when schools were directed to be reopened in October 2020, the national School Reopening Guidelines and readiness template was developed to ensure the safe reopening of schools, and commitment of all concerned parties 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 the provision of handwashing points in strategic places within the school environment were not taken”, the group said.
ActionAid said many of the schools still lack portable or running water for handwashing, social distancing is being hampered by inadequate infrastructure and only very few schools enforced wearing of face masks 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”, the statement said.
The group said against the backdrop of these factors, it joined the rest of the world to commemorate this year’s International Education Day and is calling on the federal government to improve the quality of teaching through adequate recruitment, remuneration, and continued teacher training and re-training.
It also said the government should increase the tax base by capturing the informal sector to increase resources, working towards a minimum tax to GDP ratio of 20 per cent as well as ensure inclusive education systems and institutions.
It said the government should 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.
ActionAid also requested the government to provide leadership and funds to support the logistics of monitoring teams at all levels; and enforce compliance to COVID-19 safety rules and measures, and review the security architecture in places where insecurity has affected learning.
Stating that its theme for the year is “Recover and Revitalize Education for the COVID-19 Generation,” the group said it hoped to highlight commitments and follow-up actions taken to protect education through recovery, increase inclusion, and combat drop-out.
“Celebrate initiatives being led by governments, educators, organisations—from global to grassroots efforts—as well as partnerships demonstrating the potential to recommit education to the principles of equity and relevance,” it said.
The group said hoped to 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.
It also said with less than a decade to 2030, and in a world thrown into turmoil by the COVID-19 pandemic, the government should recommit itself to honouring the UN commitments.
“It is crucial that the federal government takes concrete actions to recommit to honouring the UN commitments and mobilize all available resources to deliver on SDG4 thereby ensuring no child is left behind,” it said.
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