FG ready to commit 25% of annual budget to education – Minister

In line with its commitment to crash the high number of out of school children in North-West region of Nigeria by improving access to quality education and empowering youths in the region, the European Union has announced the investment of an additional €5.4m in building the capacity of teachers.

EU Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen, made the disclosure in Abuja at the official launch of the €4Om intervention programme on education and youth empowerment in north-western Nigeria through the Global Gateway initiative, according to a statement obtained by our correspondent on Saturday.

According to her, the additional fund was to ensure teachers get the necessary and upgraded skills and learning needed to nurture students armed with requisite knowledge to become an army of solutions to the many challenges confronting Nigeria and the continent in general.

She said, “Actually, this component is complemented by a €5.4m separate programme that we signed today, which is dedicated to teachers for aiming to build their resilience and capacity in challenging environments.

“We have to remember that there is no education without teachers and that’s why we also have to invest in teacher training. The third objective of our programme is really that it empowers the youth with the needed skills, providing vocational education as promoting behavioural change campaigns to challenge harmful social norms and empower girls.

Urpilainen further added that the European Union was equally out to provide vocational education and training for Nigerian youths in order to equip them with the necessary skills required to excel in the labour market.

“This ambitious programme launched today has been designed with Nigerian authorities to ensure the ownership and an adequate response to the local needs. The EU is not only targeting the youth through this specific programme, it is also bringing the youth to the driving seat and this is why as the EU, we set up the Youth Sounding Board, also here in Nigeria, as well as in many countries to make sure that what we do is for the youth but also by the youth.”

Urpilainen noted that Nigeria was not only the economic powerhouse on the continent and the most populous country in Africa, but the country was also a strategic partner of the EU in the West region.

While describing education as the most transformative sector with the ability to change the fortunes of a country, she noted that the programme would focus on lifting out of school children off the streets to get the required education, especially girls through various components aimed at achieving one objective; access to quality education and youth empowerment.

She said, “Education is the most transformative sector in which we can invest and it is the cornerstone for creating resilient societies and finding solutions to the biggest challenges of our time.

“So the EU investment on access, skills and quality education and youth empowerment in north-western Nigeria brings all these different components together. It will be deployed in the North-West Nigeria.

“The programme which we are launching today supports access to education for out of school children with a specific focus on bringing and keeping girls in schools. It also includes direct assistance to families’ cash, cash, transfers, social protection, income generation, gifts and indirect assistance through agricultural practices. I think it’s important that we are able to provide access to education to each and every child in Nigeria, so no one is left behind.

“Another talk and overall objective of our programme is that it really promotes validated teaching and learning in targeted schools. So it will support child centred medical, sexual reproductive health racial gender equality training and support community based and state level capacities to deliver on education.”

Speaking on behalf of the north-western states, Governor of Jigawa State, Umar Namadi, in the statement appreciated the EU for helping the region tackle the menace of out-of-school children.

He also noted that governors were committed to making education in their respective states a priority and have decided to invest heavily in the sector.

He said: “The north-western states have the highest population in the country; we are more disadvantaged when it comes to education. So, this support is coming at the right time.”

On his part, Minister of Education, Tahir Mamman, who was also quoted in the statement, warned that any attempt to downplay education would cost the country a fortune in terms of welfare and security.

“If our youths are not properly catered for, trained and empowered, we are toying with the future of the country. Not catering for them will allow poverty to grow, insecurity to foster.”

Mamman who urged state governors to focus on prioritising education and youth empowerment, disclosed that the education sector roadmap which would soon be released covered same objectives of the European Union in revamping the sector.

“Our focus is shifting to basic education, out-of-school children, adolescent girls who need to be trained and empowered.”

“Our government is ready to commit 25% of the budget to education, all the President needs, according to him, are policies that will justify that budget and that is what we are working on,” Mamman explained.

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