The National Economic Council (NEC) has adopted a range of measures to reduce the number of out- of-school children in the country.
Kaduna State governor , Nasir el- Rufai disclosed this after the virtual NEC meeting presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the Presidential Villa.
According to him, the council agreed that the federal and states’ governments should continue to strengthen the health sector while reopening the economy.
He said that members of the NEC adopted strategies aimed at strengthening the education sector in the country and make education available to all children.
Governor el-Rufai listed the measures adopted to include; the release of the Universal Basic Education (UBE) intervention funds to all the states equally; mainstreaming the Almajiri education system; as well as popularising open schooling, which is designed to combat the out-of-school-children menace.
He said, “Some of the measures to arrest the potential growth in the number of out of school children, arising from the situation we had before the pandemic and during the pandemic are as follows:
“Disbursement of the federal government of Nigeria, UBE intervention funds to states on equality basis to enable them to implement tangible state based priority projects, including the building of schools or additional classrooms, renovations, rehabilitations, procurement of furniture and equipment etc with focus on enrolling more pupils or having more flexibility to do shifts.
“The Almajiri Integrated Quaranic Teaching School Programmes to mainstream the Almajiri boys into basic education and eradicate the out-of-school children syndrome in Northern Nigeria.
“Open schooling, which is principally aimed at reducing the number of out-of-school children in the country, amongst others.
“I am very pleased to announce that the federal government has put in place some financial incentives to assist the states in implementing the education COVID-19 plan.
“Selected states are to benefit from the COVID-19 GPE global partnership for education funding; those that are above the national average from at least two of three criteria.
“The states that have qualified are Abia, Anambra, Akwa Ibom, Benue, Ebonyi, Jigawa, Kaduna, Katsina, Kebbi, Kano, Nassarawa, Niger, Plateau, Sokoto and Zamfara states. These are the states that met two of the three criteria for GPE funding. This is the grant from the World Bank and other donors”, he said.
Speaking further, Mallam El-Rufai noted that a couple of strategies were adopted including “a national training programme to equip all university lecturers in delivering blended learning, especially the open and distance learning component should be developed by the NUC, National Commission for Colleges of Education, National Board for Technical Education and implemented starting from November 2020. This should be a rolling capacity building programme covering all our tertiary institutions.
“Finally, accelerating and strengthening the management of an electronic digital identity management system for all Nigerians. This will aid easy enrolment, retention and completion of learners at all levels as well as curb and eliminate fraud, forgery and alteration of certificates”, he said.
On the plans of government to keep school children in touch with learning during the lockdown, the governor said the Minister of State for Education, briefed the NEC on the Education Sector COVID-19 Strategy and National Education Sector COVID-19 Response Plan in order to save time and help children learn while the schools remained shut countrywide.
“Some actions taken so far to mitigate the learning loss among children by the Federal Ministry of Education are as follows: 1. Nigeria developed an Education Sector COVID-19 Strategy and National Education Sector COVID-19 Response Plan in collaboration with parastatals, development partners, public health experts, and the Nigerian education group. The federal government also constituted a ministerial task force on COVID-19, comprising 33 out of 36 states and the FCT, including Kaduna, we were the first to roll out an e-learning, digital learning platform with combination of radio and television programme to ensure that our final year students do not lose the entire second and third terms.
“The primary objectives of the COVID-19 education response plan are to ensure that all children continue learning through access to the best remote learning programmes and appropriate for each context to meet the needs of each child, including the most vulnerable. Some may have access to the internet, but the poorest can get their lessons over the radio; some through television. So, the whole plethora of platforms were made available so that no one is left behind,” he said.