The United Nations Children Education Fund (UNICEF) and the Department for International Development (DFID) have called for a functional educational system to help the Nigerian youth achieve their goals.
The organisations also urged the government to create the right vision that would unite Nigeria as a nation.
They spoke in Abuja on Monday at the first edition of the Naija Youth Talk organised by UNICEF with the theme “The Nigeria We Want”.
The Naija Youth Talk was organised in commemoration of the International Literacy Day declared held every September 8. The day was declared by UNESCO on October 26, 1966 at the 14th session of its General Conference.
It was celebrated for the first time in 1967 to highlight the importance of literacy to individuals, communities and societies.
The UNICEF Country Representative, Peter Hawkins, said Nigeria needs to address the challenges of education in the country with more than 64 million population of youth within the age bracket of 15-35.
Mr Hawkins, who was represented by Euphrates Efosie, Chief of Education, UNICEF, said the youth population is a key ingredient of national development, a bridge and transition to a prosperous future if properly harnessed.
“Young people today live in a world of unlimited potential. However, despite gains in the situation facing Nigerian children and young people in recent years, much remains to be done.”
He said many Nigerians and young people are being left behind, especially in education.
“In the education sector, which is the focus of today’s brainstorming, our young people want an education system with good learning outcomes, where a child with nine years of basic education could read and write.
“Young people want an education that is functional, equipping them with skills to compete in the highly technical global market place,” he said.
Love for one’s country
In his contribution, the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, urged the Nigerian youth to always love the country despite the odds it is experiencing. He said “in loving the country lies our unity.
“Nigeria in her present state may be unlovable but remember it is our country. We must get to a point where we will say Nigeria with all your fault, we love you. A lot of Nigerians are happy when Nigeria does not work, not knowing we are losing a lot. When Nigeria works, it works for us, ” he said.
Mr Adesina said young people have a stake in the future of the country.
“We must play a role in loving the unlovable. Nigeria have many fault lines – religion, ethnicity, language, nepotism, fake news but despite all these, we must keep loving Nigeria.”
He urged the youth to desist from sharing fake news as it has the effect of undermining the nation.
He said Nigerians will not be second class citizens elsewhere if the people have the country they want.
”We have a right to ask for the kind of country we want. A country where there will be no xenophobia; where nobody will tell us go back to your country. If we have the kind of country we want, why would we go and become second-class or third-class citizens anywhere else? We should get the kind of county we want.”
Also speaking, the founder, Slum2School Africa, Otto Orondaam, said it is important for good educational policies, learning materials and skills programmes to be introduced to the school curriculum right from the basic education.
He said there was need for an educational system that would prepare the young ones to have a choice of dream to live a fulfilled life.
“It is high time we created a vision for ourselves. It is only when we have vision that we can unite together.”
Disability should not be a hindrance
The programme assistant, Centre for Citizens with Disabilities, Musa Musa, in his own remarks, demanded a country where people with disabilities will have a better life
“We want a Nigeria where disability will not be seen as an identity but a recognition. We want to see persons living with disabilities to live a better life and go to school and as well as inclusive education. We want a Nigeria where we will have free access to lecture hall, event centres and also where people with disability can be the president of our country.”