The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) has called for better support to teachers and increased financing for education, so as to reduce loss of learning and increasing school dropouts worsened by the coronavirus pandemic.
Commemorating the World Education Day, UNESCO, in a statement, said except there are increased efforts, dropout will continue to rise and will ultimately reverse the progresses made towards all the Sustainable Development Goals.
The theme for this year is: “Changing Course, Transforming Education.”
The global organisation said the objective is to mobilise political will to address inequalities in access and completion of education in line with SDG4, spotlight student and teacher’s voices on what changes and innovations they want to see to make their education and profession more fit for purpose.
The statement read in part: “Transforming the future requires an urgent rebalancing of our relationships with each other, with nature as well as with technology that permeates our lives, bearing breakthrough opportunities while raising serious concerns for equity, inclusion and democratic participation.
“Education is key to charting the course towards more justice and sustainability, but it is failing millions of children, youth and adults, increasing their exposure to poverty, violence and exploitation.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated a pre-existing education crisis. Reliance on digital technology for learning has deepened exclusion and gender inequalities. Without remedial action, better support to teachers and increased financing, learning losses and school dropout will continue to rise, reversing progress towards all the Sustainable Development Goals and depriving youth of a future of dignity and opportunity.”
Nigeria in focus
With over 10 million out-of-school children, Nigeria houses the highest number in Sub Saharan Africa. Violent attacks on schools in the past year have also raised fears that this number would soon be on the increase.
More than 50 per cent of students who took part in the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) and qualified for admission in the past year might not secure admission as tertiary institutions lament the backlog of admitted students yet to be admitted from the 2020 UTME.
COVID-19 has stalled a complete academic session leaving institutions struggling to admit more students.
Nigeria’s allocation for the sector in the 2022 budget is still way below the 15-20% recommended by UNESCO.
Glimpse of hope
However, the federal government’s announcement in October last year that teachers in public schools will begin to enjoy a new salary structure and elongated service from 35 to 40 years is a positive development.
The government has also tasked the newly inaugurated governing board for the National Secondary Education Commission (NSSEC) to come up with innovations to regulate and reposition the senior secondary education in Nigeria, including funding.
WATCH: Governor Yahaya Bello's Roadmap to Hope 2023