By Ruth Oketunde
An international education charity announced on Sunday in Abuja that it would partner the Nigerian government to tackle prevailing problems that had prevented about 10.19 million children from going to school.
Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation is cited as currently having the largest number of out-of-school children in sub-Saharan Africa.
Mrs Ibironke Adeagbo, Chief Executive Officer of a UK-based charity, known as IA-Foundation, told newsmen that the partnership with Nigeria was aimed at giving education to out-of-school kids in parts of the expansive West African country.
Adeagbo described the engagement with Nigeria as a fallout from the recent international education summit in London, tagged Global Education Summit, which had the British prime minister, the Kenyan president and President Muhammadu Buhari participating.
She commended Buhari for pledging at the summit to double Nigeria’s education budget by 50 per cent in the next two years, to stimulate growth in the education sector of the country.
Adeagbo, who is also the founder of the IA-Foundation noted, however, that the president’s gesture was too meagre to lift Nigeria’s education sector out of the woods when compared with the 23 per cent budgetary allocation made to education by Nigeria’s neighbour, Ghana.
According to her, prevailing issues in Nigeria demand that corporate bodies and public-spirited individuals should rise to the challenge and partner with government to engender an assured future for children.
She lamented what she described as the disturbing problems plaguing the education sector in Nigeria in recent years, saying that in the past 12 years, only 2011 and 2019 did not record brazen attacks on schools in the country.
Citing statistics, Adeagbo said that 35 per cent of the attacks were on secondary schools, where girls captured by bandits were married off – to the amazement of Nigerians and the global community.
“Eleven states out of the 36 states in Nigeria have been affected in the attacks with 48 per cent of the attacks occurring in boarding schools, while the Northeast geo-political zone experienced 73 per cent of the attacks.”
Adeagbo said the apparent siege on the education sector had made Nigeria a nation, where one in every five of the world’s out-of-school children reside, describing the situation as worrisome and unacceptable.
She said that IA-Foundation had scheduled a fund raising event for Feb. 5 next year in Lagos, to stimulate the interest of individuals and corporate bodies on the need to tackle problems in Nigeria’s education sector and save the country’s future.
Quoting Victor Hugo, the French playwright, poet and essayist, Adeagbo, a chartered accountant said: “He who opens a school door, closes a prison door’’.
She said the initiative to tackle problems in Nigeria’s education sector was part of effort by her organisation to bridge the gap in accessing education and to open opportunities, to make Nigerian children to acquire basic education.
“At IA-Foundation, we do not believe that we have the silver bullet to solving these challenges but we believe that we are part of the solution,’’ said Adeagbo. (NAN)