Our reporter| Former President Olusegun Obasanjo says that unless the country gets the 20 million children out of school back to the classrooms, the foundation for another generation of Boko Haram fighters is being laid.
Obasanjo, who stated this on Tuesday in his remarks at the national summit on tertiary education reform, organised by the house of representatives, and held in Abuja, said urgent steps need to be taken to tackle Nigeria’s rising rate of out-of-school children.
According to him, addressing tertiary education reform begins with the foundation of childhood education and ensuring access to quality learning opportunities for all children.
Nigeria, he asserted, needs to urgently address the problem of out-of-school of school children to avoid breeding future insurgents.
“Where did we miss the road? We missed the road when the whole world was talking of popular education, education for all, and we did not follow that. It was a bad miss. We even had target date globally,” he said.
“We, today, out of 244 million children out of school, we have 20 million — almost 10 percent. We missed, we continue to miss, and we are missing. That is a very bad one.
“Can we do anything about it? I believe we can. Those 20 million children that are out of school, we can get them back to school. If we don’t get them back to school, we are preparing for Boko Haram of tomorrow. And nobody needs to tell you anything about that. It will happen as sure as daylight.
“And what can we do? Where are these 20 million children located? Can we have schools in the morning and schools in the afternoon to get them in at least for six years?
“In the period of six years when this is happening, we will prepare for the transition from primary school to secondary school. And if we are able to do that, we have started the process of dealing with education as an instrument of nation building.”
The United Nations recently put Nigeria’s figure of out-of-school children and youths at over 20 million but Nigeria’s ministry of education put the figure at less than 11 million.