Former Minister of Education, Dr Oby Ezekwesili, has expressed concerns over the high number of out-of-school children in Nigeria, saying the development portends a bleak future for the country.
Ezekwesili was speaking at a zoom meeting on Tuesday to mark the third anniversary of the UK-based charity, known as IA-Foundation.
She lamented that Nigeria’s future looked bad with about 13.2 million children currently out of school, saying that government must tackle the problem to forestall any fall out in the near future.
Recalling her tenure as a minister in 2006, Ezekwesili said that the number of out of school kids had doubled within a period of less than 16 years from 6.8 million to 13.2 million currently.
Quoting the 19th century French poet and essayist, Victor Hugo, she said that “he who opens a school closes a prison door”.
She said that the Federal Government ought to focus on meeting Sustainable Development Goal Four, which targets increasing access to education.
Speaking on “Impacting Lives’’, Ezekwesili noted that Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo, two of Africa’s most richly endowed nations, have the highest number of out-of-school children in the world.
She recalled that during her time as minister, she had involved the private sector in an initiative called Adopt-a-School, to get everyone involved in making school attractive for children.
“Within one year 600,000 more children got enrolled in schools. But the initiative was short-lived, due to non-continuation in governance,” she said.
According to her, the middle class should not leave the education of the populace to the government alone. Everyone should be involved.
Also speaking, a Cleric, Mr Itua Ighodalo, said that there was “lack of commitment to pushing mass literacy in the country.
Ighodalo, however, cited what he described as serious efforts being made by the governments of Edo, Lagos, Anambra and Kaduna States to give education to the populace.
He also lauded IA-Foundation for its commitment to tackling the out-of-school problem, saying that posterity would remember current efforts of the group.
An education advocate, Ms Zuriel Oduwole, urged the Federal Government to adopt measures to open education access to every citizen.
Oduwole said that the fastest method to develop the country was to provide education for everyone, especially the girl-child.
She pleaded with stakeholders in the country to work assiduously to reduce the high number of out-of- school children in Africa’s most populous nation.
The annual IA-Foundation charity is an initiative of Mrs Ibironke Adeagbo, a chartered accountant, based in London, England.