ABEOKUTA – A Non-Governmental Organisation, Concerned Parents and Educators Network, has said that Nigeria may not achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals if poor funding of the education sector continues.
This was contained in a statement issued by the organisation and signed by Mrs. Ronke Adeniyi at a programme tagged ‘Teachers Appreciation Day’ organised by the body in Lagos.
According to her, till date, no government in Nigeria has ever raised the allocation for education to 20 percent as recommended by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.
She added that if nothing was done to improve the situation, teachers and students alike would suffer and majority of Nigerian children would be failing in reading and mathematics by the year 2030.
Year 2030, according to her, is the year for attaining the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, and “this will mean that our youth will lack the skills required to participate in the twenty-first century employment and entrepreneurship economy.
We all know that financing the educational sector is critical. How little we continue to invest in the sector, and even of the little invested, how much gets to the schools is a clear reflection of the state of the nation.”
Reiterating that funding allocation must be improved for the sector, Adeniyi said budget would always be a critical aspect and “we must as a result resign to supporting the educational sector with the funds it needs to be competitive enough to raise global citizens.”
Pointing out the challenges facing educators in the country, she said in preparing children for an unknown digital future, teachers as facilitators should be supported with resources and a physical environment that ensured that the important task of imparting knowledge and skills to their wards was much easier.
“Today’s teachers are encountering challenges not only in the classroom but also face pressure due to social and economic factors in the country, the woeful state of governance of the educational sector and the lacklustre government support in some cases,” she said.
She added that according to UNICEF statistics on education in Nigeria: “Nigeria’s population growth has put pressure on the country’s resources, public services, and infrastructure. With children under 15 years of age accounting for 45 per cent of the 171 million population, the burden on education has become overwhelming, therefore increasing the workload of the teachers.”
She listed challenges to be looked into to include lack of strategic direction in the profession, low entry requirements into the profession, a non-diverse curriculum, teacher-student ratio, mental health issues, psychiatric assessments and evaluation, non-conducive environment, children with additional needs, corruption and malpractice, among others.
She added, “More especially the NGO said teacher’s salaries need to be looked into because most of the time they are discouraging with some as little as N15, 000 per month or less, which is hardly enough to survive let alone travel back and forth from schools.
“We must change the narrative and we continue to call on all relevant parties in the government to hear our cry and support one of the most important sectors in our nation so that the sector will begin to create the transformation that we truly deserve as a nation.”
The Founder of the organisation, Mrs. Yinka Ogunde, in her remarks said it’s a known fact that education sector could not progress beyond the level of the teaching force; hence the need for teachers to acquire more knowledge to be able to impact on the children.
She, however, urged the government and other stakeholders in the sector to make schools environment conducive for learning and more especially create room for teacher
Over 400 teachers were present at the programme and selected ones were honoured for their years in the teaching profession.