ActionAid Alleges Government Paying Lip-service to Free First Nine Years of Schooling

...Demands Immediate Government Action to End Educational Exclusion of Poor Children 

ActionAid Nigeria has alleged that the government is only paying lip service to the avowed policy of free education to children in their first nine years of schooling, insisting that a massive number of children are still being denied their right due to inadequate resources, poor infrastructure, and a lack of transparency in the use of public funds. 

A statement on Monday by the Country Director, ActionAid Nigeria, Andrew Mamedu demanded an  immediate government action to end educational exclusion of poor children in the country.

The statement read: “ActionAid Nigeria vehemently disapproves the failure of the Nigerian government to provide quality education to children from poor backgrounds- one of its most vulnerable citizens. Despite the free education policy that was enacted to cater for children in their first nine years of schooling, a massive number of children are still being denied their right due to inadequate resources, poor infrastructure, and a lack of transparency in the use of public funds. This is a shocking dereliction of duty.

“This obvious inaction by the government is a clear betrayal of the trust placed in them by the citizens. The inconsistent working relationship between federal and state governments has resulted in a catastrophic failure of coordination, prioritization, and curriculum development. This is unacceptable and must be addressed immediately.”

Mamedu added that: The outrageously high number of poorest children who are out of school is a direct consequence of the government's appalling neglect of public services.”

Mamedu said: “According to the Nigerian Education Factsheet by UNICEF, about one fourth of the children of primary school completion age did not complete primary education. Moreover, there's a staggering wealth-based disparity, as 97 per cent of children from the richest families complete primary school, compared to just 34 per cent from the poorest families. 

“The gap widens in senior secondary school, where 90 per cent from wealthy families complete their education, versus a mere 16 per cent from poor families.”
He lamented that: “There are also significant ethnic disparities- children from Igbo, Yoruba, Ijaw, Ibibio, and Edo backgrounds tend to have higher completion rates, while those from Fulani and Kanuri backgrounds face lower rates of educational attainment.”

He said he firmly believes that “Education is the key to breaking the cycle of poverty, and it is the government's responsibility to ensure that all children have access to quality education.” 

He added that: “The current state of education in Nigeria is a crisis, and we assert that the government takes immediate action to address these issues and prioritize the future of our children.”

Mamedu said: “ActionAid strongly demands that the government: Implements the policy of free education for the first nine years of schooling effectively, without delay; Improves coordination and prioritization between federal and state governments, to ensure a unified approach to education; Increases transparency in the allocation and use of public funds for education, to ensure that resources are being used effectively; Allocates sufficient funds for infrastructure development and improving the school experience for children, to provide a safe and supportive learning environment.”

He said: “It's time for the government to step up and fulfill its responsibility to provide a decent education for all, without excuses or exceptions.”

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