From Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has said that almost 20 million out-of-school children in the country, are akin to a time bomb.
Obasanjo stated this, while speaking at a National Tertiary Education Summit, organised by the House of Representatives, as part of efforts towards addressing the challenges in the country’s educational sector.
The former president, who expressed dismay that the country was unable to key into the global Education for All initiative, said if the children remain out of school, the country would be building an army for insurgents in the near future.
The former president stated that the country must be mindful of its growing population, noting that there must be conscious efforts to address issues associated with the growing population.
According to him, “the issues to me are that we are cutting more than we can chew. Who is looking at our population ahead of time, five years from now and ten years from now, and what can we do about it? And apart from food which is very important, who are the people thinking about that and working forward on that.
“After food and after health, the next important aspect of our life is education. No if this is the position and these are rights that we must have, what do we do? We know that if we continue the way we are going, by the year 2030, 2040, 2050 what our population would be.
“We have to think about it and how we would sort it. And I believe, that you asked where did we miss the road? We missed the road when the whole world is talking of education for all and we did not follow that. It was bad news. We today we have 20 million out of school children. Almost 10 percent of the population. We continue to miss and we are still missing. That is a very bad one. Can we do anything about it? I believe we can.”
Obasanjo added “those 20 million children that are out of school, we can get them back to school. If we do not get them back to school, we are preparing for Boko Haram of tomorrow. It will happen as sure as daylight. What can we do where are these 20 million children? Where are they located?
“Can we have schools in the morning and afternoon to get them in at least for six years. In the period of six years where this is happening, we would prepare for the transition from primary school to secondary school. And if we are able to do that, we have started the process of lifting education, an instrument of nation building.”
The Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, in his speech, stated that the summit with the theme “Re-imagining Tertiary Education in Nigeria: Issues, Challenges and Solutions”, is in line with the resolve of the ninth assembly to reform public tertiary education in the country.
Gbajabiamila, while noting that for the country to attain its potentials, it must invest in human capital development,
education is the silver bullet to combat poverty in the country.
The speaker said: “The nation’s greatest resource is not the oil that flows through our deltas nor the abundant minerals that lie underground in every corner of our country. Our most incredible resource has always been the Nigerian people. This immense collection of tongues and tribes, bound together under one flag, striving through adversity and achieving despite every obstacle. As we are gathered here this morning, our cause is more than to seek solutions to the challenges of tertiary education in Nigeria. In fact, we are here today on a mission to save Nigeria.”
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