LEARNigeria Advocacy – September 2018

As a result of the key findings from the evidence generated by the 2017 LEARNigeria citizen-led household assessment survey, it was important to give feedback to the communities where the data was collected.

The LEARNigeria community engagement and advocacy programme was held in September 2018 across the six states (Akwa Ibom, Ebonyi, Kano, Lagos, Plateau, and Taraba States) where the citizen-led household survey was implemented.

The community-level dissemination of findings, engagement, and advocacy, brought together parents, teachers, paramount traditional rulers, clerics, social mobilization officers, education secretaries, States’ SUBEB Chairman and other decision-makers/policymakers to highlight the causes and identify the solutions to the challenges impeding children’s learning in Nigeria.

The key objectives of the community engagement were to communicate results of the 2017 LEARNigeria survey, for the states and LGAs; stimulate the interest of stakeholders on possible ways of solving both access and learning challenge in the LGAs; and introduce tested teaching methodology and programme to improve learning outcomes:  Teaching at the Right Level (TaRL) to the state education administrators and the community stakeholders. We also explored the possible partnership with SUBEB on the teaching methodology.

NGO Activity in LEARNigeria Communities

LEARNigeria is a citizen-led assessment (CLA) aimed at testing the literacy and numeracy level of children between 5-15 years old. The survey was initially piloted in two local governments (LGAs); one in Ikorodu, Lagos state and the other in Ungogo, Kano state. Following the successful pilot of the assessment the project was scaled up and conducted in 36 additional LGAs across 6 states in the country – including Plateau state, Ebonyi, Akwa-Ibom and Taraba. Attributable to the primary goal of the assessment (being Citizen driven), there was need to form partnership and engage the services of NGOs/CBOs who are citizens of the selected LGAs.

Partnership with NGOs was critical in support and strengthening the purpose of the project, to widen the reach of LN, watering it down to the local level. These partners were to be the torch carriers of LN assessment in their communities, reaching the locales both in schools and households, even in their local languages. They were commissioned to translate and support implementation of the tools and activities relating to the survey. It was the duty of these partners to elect members/volunteers from the selected enumeration areas (EAs) whose interests are aligned with the goal of LEARNigeria (LN), train them in the use of assessment instruments and facilitate/monitor implementation of the survey process within their localities.

Working with some of these partners, particularly in Lagos, Ebonyi and Plateau state made for a smoother survey process than would have otherwise occurred.

State/Local Government Report Card

The foundation of every state is the education of its youth (children)”

– Diogenes of Sinope

Education is vital to the development of every state; it is the crux of development, civilization and modernization. In spite of its importance, millions of children all over the world are deprived of access to quality education. This is injustice and inequity at its peak. The 2016 UNESCO report on education shows that about 103 million youth lack the basic literacy and numeracy skills and a total of 263 Million Children are out-of-school. Nigeria is not left out in this education crisis, as a matter of fact; Nigeria has the highest number out-of-school children -10.5 million. This is not the future we want. The future we want was resolved by the 193 countries of the UN General Assembly and documented as the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). If Nigeria will attain the goals entrenched in the SDG 2030, it must begin with putting education at the forefront, and finding sustainable ways to address critical issues hindering education access and quality delivery.

The LEARNigeria[i] 2017 household survey unravelled some concealed but critical issues.  The survey was implemented in 6 states across the 6 geopolitical zones in Nigeria. The states include Lagos, Kano, Akwa Ibom, Ebonyi, Kano and Taraba. In some states, it was observed that education is subject to political and settlement rift. Two examples were in Kano and Taraba state. In Kano state, because of political rift, a one-time multi-million naira hotel commissioned to be converted into a school was kept on hold. As we drove by the tranquil road where the massive building was located, I thought of how many children the school, if completed by now, will provide education for, how many girls would have benefitted and how Kano state may have been closer to delivering the sustainable development goal on education. Likewise in Taraba state, settlement rift is the order of the day. If government builds a school in a settlement, neighbouring settlements refrain their children from attending the school. They are of the opinion that going to school in another settlement will make the settlement more developed than theirs.

Child Labour and Abuse: A Contemporary Issue of the Nigerian Educational System

Nigeria with it diverse cultures and tribes has been referred to as “the giant of Africa”. A cliché that has been drummed into my subconscious from my formative years till now. The Nigerian educational system, handed over to us by the British, used to be a standard other African countries aspired to and emulated in the early 60’s well into the late 80’s. An era when children were comfortable in their learning environments and mostly happy to be there, same with their parents, who largely encouraged their children to immerse themselves in the wells of knowledge abundantly available. The LEARNigeria project has provided me a platform to holistically experience the fast eroding educational system our country prides itself on

From the West (Lagos), to the North West (Kano), to the North east (Taraba), the factors affecting our educational system progressively worsens. General neglect and abuse of children has significantly hindered their literacy and numeracy skills. For instance in Lagos state,  you would find most of the pupils outside the classroom during school hours running  errands or roaming the environs as their teachers are either too busy with their personal business or they did not even bother showing up at school. The few ones in the classroom show lack of enthusiasm, while the teachers are not motivated to impact knowledge to these children, hence jeopardizing the foundation upon which the educational career of these children could have been built upon. The parents are also not innocent as I observed  that an alarming number of children were at home during school hours engaged in various domestic/economic activities for their parent, who do not seem to mind the impending deficiency it poses to their children’s future. The children on the other hand, seem to have no choice since they have to eke out a living daily.