PAP: Deputy Speaker Kalu Highlights Nigeria’s Strategies To Improve Education

Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Benjamin Okezie Kalu has detailed strategies adopted by the Nigerian government to improve education in the country.

Speaking at the 3rd Ordinary Session of the 6th Parliament of the Pan-African Parlaiment in Johannesburg, South Africa on Monday, Kalu outlined some of the measures to include increased funding for schools, scholarships and the passage of the students loan scheme bill which has since been assented to by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

Kalu who spoke to the underlying policy thrust of the session which is to “build resilient education systems for increased access to inclusive, lifelong, quality, and relevant learning in Africa”, anchored on the African Union theme for 2024, identified as the Year of Education with a focus on educating an African fit for the 21st Century also factored in a recent licence granted to a university for online classes.

He said: “Honourable Colleagues! Permit me to reflect briefly on our experience in Nigeria. It is remarkable to note that this theme aligns quite substantively to the legislative priorities established under my leadership at the Nigeria House of Representatives and more fervently with President Bola Ahmed Tnubu’s focus on prioritizing education as a major catalyst to economic development.

“This involves increased funding for schools, scholarships, and initiatives like free school meals. This commitment has also informed the initiation and passage of the Student Loan (Access to Higher Education) Act in 2023 and its ensuing operationalization earlier this year after being assented to by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu. The purpose of this act is to create seamless access to credit facilities for quality higher education, ensuring that all Nigerian students have the opportunity to achieve their academic potential regardless of their financial background.

“I also want to share our experience from Nigeria regarding strengthening infrastructure, ensuring educational continuity during crises, and leveraging technology for remote learning. Nigerian regulators in the public education sector are paving the way with innovative licenses that power the next level of innovation from its vibrant edutech industry. A prime example is the MIVA Open University, which received an Open Distance eLearning License from the National Universities Commission (NUC) to operate online classes.”

In addition to the efforts, Kalu also said that Nigeria is championing lifelong learning opportunities through initiatives like vocational training and adult literacy programs.

The Deputy Speaker also mulled the creation of a dedicated fund to assist various continents to achieve their education need.

Emphasizing the need for proper democratization of the African Union, Kalu also called for the input of the legislative arm in the budget process of the Union.

“My office, the Office of the Deputy Speaker in Nigeria’s House of Representatives, has already sponsored draft legislation that institutionalizes a national apprenticeship scheme for the country and has passed the second reading. This demonstrates our commitment to equipping our citizens with the skills necessary for a dynamic and evolving economy.

“We must also focus on the education of people with physical disabilities, ensuring that our educational systems are inclusive and accessible to all. Furthermore, it is crucial that we insist on utilizing an African model of learning to pass knowledge. Our knowledge acquisition model should be tailored to suit the African dynamics, ensuring that our educational methods are relevant and effective in our unique continent.

“With all of these in mind, we must advocate for a specific target percentage of national budgets dedicated to education. This will serve as a landmark goal for all African countries, engineering a continent-wide commitment. In addition, by sharing best practices in teacher training, curriculum development, and technology utilization, we can leverage the collective wisdom of Africa for the benefit of all.

“I propose the creation of a dedicated fund to support national efforts and address funding disparities across the continent. This will ensure no child is left behind on the path to a brighter future. Also, in order track progress and foster accountability, establishing clear targets for country representatives at the Parliament is imperative. This sets the stage for peer review and informative country-by-country presentations at future PAP sessions.

“Let me emphasize that if AU as a democratic institution wants to be seen as one, it is important and the time is now, for the legislative arm of AU to be strengthened beyond where it is.

“An error of having a budget by the executive arm of AU that is going to be oversighted by the legislative arm without the imput of the appropriation right of this arm of the government of AU, should be gone.

“A new era that is transparent, a new era that is credible, a new era that has integrity should now come into place.”

The Deputy Speaker while bemoaning recent empirical reports that suggested a deep crisis in education globally tasked the parliament on its solution.

“The role of this Parliament is to adopt a pan-African approach to cure this defect. That is our job as leaders, it is our job as representatives of the people. If we are fit for purpose, we must chest out to deal with it. The era of blaming anybody is gone. It is now our responsibility to deal with our problems. Nothing more, nothing less. This is a call for immediate action and I am pleased that the leadership of President Charumbira is not wasting any time in addressing this major continental deficiency in our education system”, he said.

/ABN

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