Crème de la crème from across Nigeria gathered in Ilorin on Thursday for the Kwara Education Futures Summit.
Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq said the summit was called to “analyse the current state of education in Kwara State and develop actionable plan to build a new generation of leaders who can hold their own anywhere in the world.”
World Bank Senior Education Specialist Dr. Tunde Adekola commended the government for the initiative and its commitment of more than 25% UNESCO budgetary funding to education.
Adekola called for resuscitating the regime of accountability in the schools, including key performance indicators to measure performance and adherence to rules.
He said: “Kwara State has the highest number of basic schools in the whole of north central. Kwara State has the least number of out of school children in the north central zone of Nigeria.
“Kwara State is one of those states that are investing more than 20% of its budget in education.
“Kwara State is one of those states that is coming up from behind in accessing all the funding in UBEC and is now investing in infrastructure and learning materials.
“All these things do not come by accident. That is what is called leadership. That is what we need at all levels in the state. That is why the governor brought all of us here to share knowledge and information, to see how we can make things better,” he said.
AbdulRasaq said the administration has moved basic education from the near collapse state in 2019 with investments in infrastructure, recruitment of good teachers, and reinvigoration of the monitoring system in the schools.
“Two years down the road, my team and I are proud to report that the situation has changed. We have restored our relationship with key partners after years of blacklist.
“We have reshaped public perception about teaching by engaging the best minds into the system. Work is ongoing in some 600 basic schools to give our children a befitting learning environment,” he said.
“Our goal is to make public schools the first choice for all in terms of the quality and relevance of our infrastructure and teaching staff in the digital age.
“As a show of our commitment to education, we have recently surpassed the UNESCO budgetary threshold of 26%. Even so, it is clear that the government cannot do this alone,” he said.
He added: “Already, we are building a legal framework to support our efforts. We now have a bill for a law to establish Kwara State Education Trust Fund. When passed, this fund will supplement the sector’s finance, promote technologies, and leapfrog the sector’s development through our Kwara Education Transformation Agenda (KWETA) plan.”
Special Adviser to the President on Social Investments Mariam Uwais called for collaborative efforts among traditional rulers, civil society organisations, governments and religious scholars in addressing the issue of out-of-school children through facilities in agriculture, sports, and creativity sectors.
“The children who are out on the streets without education, without any skill and many of them now going to young adults are the ones easily exposed to violence, to crimes and other forms of abuse.
“This has led the federal government to take decisions on how to support states to curb a lot of these challenges. It is very important for states to lead giving the mandate in the constitution since primary education, primary health care and agriculture fall within their purview. For that reason, it is important for states to take the lead in addressing many of these challenges that these children have,” she said.
Commissioner for Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Ibrahim Sulaiman, said the present administration has been able to create an enabling environment for education to thrive which is made possible through the resilient effort of Governor AbdulRazaq.