Two weeks ago we reported that several MPs tabled parliamentary questions on the UK government’s support for education in Nigeria in response to a breakfast meeting hosted by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Global Education for All. Over the last two weeks responses have been coming through, and they paint an interesting and encouraging picture.
Most recently responses to questions from Alison McGovern MP were published yesterday. Alison asked:
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the Education Sector Support Programme in Nigeria in increasing the accountability of the Nigerian government to its citizens through (a) working with local government officials and (b)working with civil society organisations; and if he will make a statement.
The response from Minister of State Stephen O’Brien was:
The Education Sector Support Programme in Nigeria (ESSPIN) is subject to regular scrutiny, and the last major review took place in May 2010. This provided strong evidence that the programme is increasing the accountability of the Nigerian Government to its citizens. ESSPIN works closely with another programme which is funded by the Department for International Development (DFID)-the State Accountability and Voice Programme (SAVI)-to identify, train and support civil society organisations to mobilise communities and encourage greater government accountability. ESSPIN works with local government officials to establish school based management committees, which make schools, teachers and local officials more accountable to the local community.
With our partners in the Civil Society Action Coalition for Education for All (CSACEFA), the main Nigerian education coalition, RESULTS has been pushing for the re-establishment of the Community Accountability and Transparency Initiative (CATI), a crucial programme which published education budgets at State level in Nigeria. We are therefore very pleased to hear that the UK government is committed to supporting accountability measures in the education sector.
In responses to other questions, we have also heard that the Department for International Development is planning among other activities to scale up its work to ensure more girls are able to access education, and its work in skills development. Stephen O’Brien commented:
As I saw for myself on my recent visit DFID has contributed to a number of gains in education in Nigeria including improving access to nearly 800 schools to help increase the number of girls in school; helping nearly 2,000 women from rural areas of northern Nigeria to undertake teacher training; and providing training to improve the management of 2,000 schools.
As Nigeria has the largest number of out of school children of any country in the world (over 8 million) it’s great to see that the UK government is engaging with this vital issue.