ABUJA – Education activist, Malala Yousafzai, has asked the three tiers of government to increase budgetary allocation to the education sector and ensure the education of every child in Nigeria.
Malala made the appeal during a courtesy visit to the Minister of State for Education, Chief Nyesom Wike, in Abuja on Monday.
The 17-year-old Pakistani girl, who survived a Taliban assassination attack, was accompanied by her father, Ziauddin Yousafzai and Shiza Shahid, the 25-year-old founder of Malala Fund.
She acknowledged Wike’s submission that the Federal Government was working hard to reduce the number of out of school children in Nigeria, which UN statistics, put at 10.5 million children.
To make progress in educational enrolment, she said, the three tiers of government must stop heaping blames on each other on who was responsible for the low enrollment figures in basic education in Nigeria.
“The federal, state and local governments must sit together and be united and consider as a national issue, the girls that are out of school, the children that are out of school.
“They should not blame it on each other, they should think about it, they should sit down together; this is the future of this country.
“If they want the future of this country to be bright and shinning they should increase the emphasis on education and its budget,’’ Malala said.
Malala expressed confidence that the Federal government’s intervention in the education sector would bring change, adding “when I come back to Nigeria, I want to hear news that zero children in Nigeria are out of school’’.
She also appealed to the Nigerian government to increase security in schools across the country in the aftermath of the April 14 abduction of over 200 girls in Chibok, Borno, by Boko Haram insurgents.
“I want to see that no child is deprived of education and again I am hopeful that the girls who escaped from the abduction will get the opportunity to return to school,’’ she said.
In his response, Wike said it was on record that in 2010, the budget of the Federal Ministry of Education was about N200 billion, but today the combined budget of the ministry is over N500 billion.
“There is a dramatic increase in the budget to education and it has the largest budget in this country and this proves that this government has made attempts to increase and improve the budgetary allocation to the ministry and the sector.
“That may not be enough, but I am trying to say that there has been progressive improvement in the budgetary allocation to the education sector,’’ Wike said.
The minister assured members of the Malala foundation that government would continue to work hard to improve the enrolment figures in the country.
“We are not taking it lightly, it is a national issue that we must have to do something to reduce the number of out-of-school children and we will continue to fund the relevant agencies that are responsible for this enrolment.
The minister announced that by 2015 the Federal Government was targeting two million pupil enrolments in primary schools across the country.
He disputed the accuracy of the UNICEF data which put the number of out of school-children in Nigeria at 10.5 million.
He, however, said the Federal government would use the data as a template to work on its intervention and assured that by September 2015 “out of school children should have reduced to no seven million.’’ (NAN)