Following a roundtable meeting on ‘Engaging the community in delivering education for all: the case of Nigeria’ held by the APPGs on Global Education for All and on Nigeria in December, three MPs have tabled parliamentary questions asking the government about their support to education in Nigeria.
Nigeria has the largest number of out of school children of any country in the world – over 8 million according to the latest figures. The UK Department for International Development currently provides support to education in Nigeria through the ‘Education Sector Support Programme in Nigeria’ (ESSPIN), which is largely managed through NGOs. There is a big focus on girls’ education, which is a particular issue in large areas of northern Nigeria, and the programme also aims to increase community participation in education.
Two of the questions were tabled by Vice-Chairs of the APPG on Global Education for All, Mark Williams, MP for Ceredigion, and Fiona O’Donnell, MP for East Lothian. The third question was tabled by Mark Lazarowicz, MP for Edinburgh North and Leith and a Labour Shadow Minister for International Development.
Mark William’s question is:
“To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, what discussions his Department has held with the Nigerian government on UK support for the Nigerian education sector; and if he will make a statement.”
“If his Department will provide support for steps to reinstate the education sector Community Accountability and Transparency Initiative in Nigeria.”
The Community Accountability and Transparency Initiative is a programme established by former Minister of Education Obiageli Ezekwesili to increase transparency in the education sector by publishing budgets, which allowed communities to hold their politicians to account for actually delivering the funding that was allocated. Unfortunately the initiative ran out of money and has not been operational over the last year. Civil society organisations within Nigeria are currently trying to re-establish the initiative, using external funding to ensure its sustainability.
Mark Lazarowicz asked:
“To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, what plans his Department has to increase the geographical coverage of its Education Sector Support Programme in Nigeria.”
So far only Fiona O’Donnell’s question has been answered. Yesterday Minister of State for International Development Stephen O’Brien MP said:
“The Department for International Development (DFID) is willing to consider supporting any reinstatement of the Community Accountability and Transparency Initiative (CATI) in Nigeria. This would be dependent on a request and support from the Nigerian Government. The principles of accountability and transparency are fully supported by DFID, and we are working with Nigerian officials to promote these principles. DFID is supporting community based management committees to improve transparent use of resources at school level, as part of an effort to strengthen management of the education sector as a whole.
This is excellent news. Our Nigerian partners are currently working to get the Nigerian government on board with the initiative, and we hope to see progress over the next few months.
The other questions are due to be answered shortly, and we very much look forward to hearing more about the UK government’s plans to support the Nigerian education sector, which is so crucial to achieving Millennium Development Goal 2 on universal primary education.