Review of Innovative Strategies, Policies and Programmes in Education

Education is a fundamental human right because it enhances human dignity by bestowing knowledge, wisdom and understanding on partakers. It is key to achieving economic growth and independence for both the individual and the nation as a whole. With education, there are more employment opportunities, higher income levels and enhanced healthcare. Countries with solid education systems generally experience lower crime rates, greater economic growth, improved social services and fewer cases of epidemic diseases.

Achieving universal education for all is one of eight issues of the 2001 MDGs. The United Nations and other stakeholders have been on their toes to see that this goal is realized especially in developing nations in Africa. According to UNESCO, no country in sub-Sahara Africa was able to reach the 2015 target of the education goals. Nigeria was not left out of this statistics, in fact, according to the Global Monitoring Report, Nigeria has failed to reach any of the global education goals (EFA, 2015).

Nigeria has about 10.5 million out-of-school children (of primary school age), less than a third of those that make it to primary school proceed to junior secondary school and even fewer go on to complete secondary school (USAID, 2013).

In order to ensure that Nigeria’s status quo changes positively, education of the citizens should take utmost priority. The country’s major education challenges are low attendance, low completion rates and gender as well as regional/geographical disparities (Unicef, 2012). Thus, there is an urgent call for out-of-the-box solutions to the problems that plague the education system. Some innovative strategies, policies and programs to solving these problems will be treated under the following subheadings:

  • Access to Education
  • Reducing out of school children
  • Improving learning
  • Improving education system

 

{Keywords: education system, poverty, access to education, school-aged children, out-of-school children}

 

  1. Access to Education

Universal access to education implies that all people have equal opportunities in education, irrespective of their social class, gender, ethnicity background or physical and mental disabilities (Wikipedia, 2017). Access to quality education is very crucial for every nation as it is the basic foundation for a wide range of other critical issues in the country like tackling of unemployment, which has the capacity to decrease poverty rate. Access to education is a serious challenge for developing countries. Education in such countries is still considered a luxury for the elite and a cross-section of the, middle class who have the relevant finance. There is usually little or no free education facilities for the low class.

As at 2016, about 34% of school-aged children in Nigeria do not receive any form of formal education and if care is not taken a whole generation of children are likely to lose out on acquiring the skills necessary to contribute to the future economy of the country due to the lack of education (Okpuno, 2016). Limited access to education in the developing nations encompasses a host of other related social, political and economic problems, like stagnating economic prosperity and depriving the nation of attaining a significant position on the international trade front. The gap between the poor and rich will widen, leading to a rise in worldwide inequality, creating more global despair and conflict.

Constraints

Poverty. This is a major obstacle in the way of global education because in many parts of Nigeria education is not free. People can barely feed themselves talk less of paying school fees. Families focus on training and involving their young ones in farming, trading and other activities that can generate income for the family upkeep.

Location of the school. In rural Nigeria, there are few schools which are very far away from the resident of many families. Because of lack of good transport system and poverty of the family, children are unable to access such distant schools.

Conflict and war. This has deprived many children of access to education, especially in north-eastern Nigeria. Schools are burnt down or closed for security reasons. Some teachers are killed and others flee the area. Parents stop their children from going to school for their safety. In 2014, the Executive Secretary of the National Commission for Nomadic Education (NCNA), Rashid Aderinoye revealed that about 4million school-aged children of nomads have no access to education (Reporter, 2014). He attributed this to the incessant conflicts in Nasarawa, Taraba and Benue States involving the Fulani herdsmen and the people which has resulted to a high level of ignorance and illiteracy among the pastoralists (Reporter, 2014).

The inadequate number of teachers. Many Nigerian schools are suffering a shortage of teachers especially in core areas like mathematics, English, sciences, Nigerian language and culture, etc.

Lack of infrastructure. Schools, especially in rural communities, do not have sufficient and adequate classroom facilities among other things.

Innovative Strategies

Free Education. Chief Obafemi Awolowo, the first premier of the Western Region, introduced and successfully implemented the first Free Primary Education in Nigeria for children up to the age of 18 years. After Chief Awolowo set the pace in the West, Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe and then Alhaji Ahmadu Bello was compelled to introduce the scheme in the East and North respectively. This made it possible for millions of Nigerians to go to school (Okpuno, 2016).    Soon after the military took over, things began to fall apart in the country and the free education policy quickly went underground. Elimination of school fees is a viable strategy that also worked in Kenya and resulted in an increase in the number of school enrolment, about 1.5 million more children entered school (Tulder, Goel, Donald, Winarno, & Tsai).

Incentives. This does not only address lack of access to education but also addresses the issue of poverty to an extent  It can exist as stipends, scholarships, gift items etc. Bolsa Escola, a nationwide education grant system in Brazil.

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