Last week RESULTS staff were privileged to attend a three day summit, entitled “The Future By Us” organised by the Nigerian High Commission on how the Nigerian community both within the country and in the UK can help to get Nigeria’s failing education system back on track. The summit grew out of a meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Global Education for All, convened by RESULTS in December, which looked at the same topic. Excitingly, the Summit is not the end for the process – the conveners envisage creating a community of people involved in the sector who can work together to push for the major changes that are needed.
In his opening remarks, Ambassador Dozie Nwanna OON, the Acting High Commissioner of Nigeria to the UK, stressed the need for Nigerians to tackle the greatest poverty; the ‘poverty of education’, and stated that the Nigerian High Commission was delighted to host an event that will produce a framework for greater civil engagement in the efforts to improve education in Nigeria over the next 10 years.
The presenters outlined a picture of a sector which leaves over 8 million unable to access education, and which seems to be failing even those who are in school as they are often not learning anything. As Ambassador Nwanna has previously stated:
Far too many Nigerian children do not go to school. The vast majority of those who do, are taught under appalling conditions, by teachers who are inadequately trained and insufficiently motivated to effectively discharge the awesome responsibility of developing the next generation of Nigerians.
The scale of the challenge is clearly huge, but there was a real sense of energy and enthusiasm at the summit with over 40 panellists and key resource people contributing ideas and commitments for action. The crucial role of the government was a central theme, but there was a strong emphasis on the need for engagement from citizens to ensure that the previous neglect and mismanagement of the education system can be turned around. The current lack of accountability and transparency in both government and private education was highlighted as a major problem and it was recognised that government alone cannot solve this – it needs the involvement of local and diaspora communities.
The guest of honour at the Summit, Minister of State for Education Olorogun Kenneth Gbagi called on the organisers to feed the outcomes of the summit into the education task force inaugurated by President Goodluck Jonathan in January and due to report in March. We look forward to seeing the outcomes of the summit feed into this important process, and to supporting the reinvigoration of Nigeria’s civil society with a view to tackling education poverty across the country.