By Lawani Mikairu

As President Jonathan takes his oath of office for his first four year term as President ,if his four-year development plan for Nigeria is to be achieved, the education sector must be given priority.

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During his inaugural speech, he rolled out a four-year development plan with special focus and attention on five keys areas of the economy including the real sector, infrastructure, education, agriculture and the Niger-Delta; and declared that “the time for lamentation is over now is the time for transformation.”

Like the President rightly said, on 16th May 2011, during the public presentation of the nation’s education data survey and the Digest of Education Statistics for the period 2006 to 2010, it is only through improved and quality education that his administration would achieve its plan to transform Nigeria.

At that occasion, President Jonathan said that to tackle the challenges of inadequate and irregular power supply, quality health provision, enhanced transport system as well as overall development, the role of educated Nigerians could not be over-emphasised.

In his words “For instance, the issue of ensuring that we have adequate power supply, we need to get the plant, develop expansion and operate and manage the facilities.

We need Nigerians to do all these and they must be educated Nigerians.It is only educated Nigerians that can run efficient seaports, rail system, health and other sectors of the economy. The myriads of our problems as a society can be achieved through a responsive education system. None of our developmental goals would be achieved if the education system cannot produce men and women to provide solutions to the problems.”

And gladly at the occasion, President Jonathan assured of an improved budgetary allocation to the education sector. The President frowned at the situation where the federal budget had continued to increase, while that of education had remained static. “This will not continue. However, this lacuna has been addressed in the 2011 budget,” he said.

The recent statistics on education reveal a frightening decline in the sector. Survey, released in a document entitled Nigeria Education Data Survey 2010, painted a grim picture of basic education in Nigeria Presenting the key findings on 2010 Nigerian Education Data Survey (NEDS), the Chairman, National Population Commission, Chief Samu’Ila D. Makama, stated that education enrolment between age six to 16 in the North West and North East geo-political zones of the country ranked lowest with 72 per cent compared to Southern zones, where it was only three per cent.

Speaking on states with children between ages five to 16 that are able to read, he said that while North East and North West zones recorded less than 40 per cent, Ekiti, Lagos, Abia, Osun, Ondo and Akwa Ibom, recorded 70 per cent and above respectively. Yobe State was ranked lowest with only six per cent.

Although President Jonathan recently told a gathering that he had requested the Minister of Education and the Chairman, National Population Commission to make a formal presentation of the Education Data report to the National Economic Council, where the governors of the 36 States of the Federation would be present., one hopes that immediate action will be taken to implement the reports and decisions reached to make the education sector viable once again.

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