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Quality and Accessible Education: BETA Nigeria Rallies Civil Society Groups

Quality and Accessible Education: BETA Nigeria Rallies City Society Groups

By Jerry Adesewo

Nigeria faces a dire situation, with more than 10 million out-of-school children, ranking among the bottom eight countries globally with low investment in education. With only 8.8% being the highest percentage of Nigeria’s annual budget ever allocated to education, compared to UNESCO’s recommended 15-20% of the annual budget, and three out of four 10-year-olds unable to read a simple sentence or solve basic arithmetic problems, the nation is in an educational crisis.

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Therefore, when civil society organisations operating in the education sector convened at the Ladi Kwali Hall of the Abuja Continental Hotel on Thursday, March 28, for the BETA Nigeria Roundtable on Education, the objective was to address these issues and, more importantly, unite partners in robust advocacy for quality, accessible, and inclusive education for Nigerian children.

Addressing the partners’ roundtable, the Federal Lead of the BETA Nigeria Campaign, Mr. Abdusallam Badamasi, explained, “Our mission is to get every Nigerian child into school, stay in school, and receive a good quality education. And that is your mission, because that is why we have brought you here. Not particularly to do anything different from what you are already doing in your various spheres of influence in the educational ecosystem, but to amplify our voices, and achieve better results.”

Further in his presentation, he reiterated that, to foster collaboration, the NGO has launched a series of roundtable discussions in Jigawa, Kano, Kaduna, and Abuja. “These short discussions, like the one we are having now, focus on education reform, specifically what needs to change to make education a stronger investment in Nigeria’s future, and how we can work together to achieve these goals,” he added.

The roundtable saw a robust discussion on the way forward for education investment in Nigeria, with different partner organisations making submissions and commitments on what they could bring to the table and the necessary actions to be taken by the coalition to achieve the set goal, primarily advocating for increased investment in the education sector.

Several leading civil society experts attended the roundtable, including Mrs. Lois Auta of the Network of Women with Disabilities and Hamzat Lawal of Connected Development, among numerous others.

Speaking at the event, Hajiya Maryam Uwais, drawing on her experiences working in both the public and private sectors, admonished the BETA Nigeria Campaign to remain steadfast in its vision while remaining open to suggestions. “While I agree with many of the proposals that have been discussed here today, I think it is important that you focus on one thing, and one thing only, and that is advocacy!” She went ahead to underscore the need for the organisation, to work with Connected Development, to ensure budget tracking of government investment in education.

The Federal Lead of the Campaign, Mr. Abdusallam Badamasi, reiterated that, though the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, funds the campaign, it is not a grant-making organisation to whom partners can look for funds. However, he stated that the coalition partnership offers mutual benefits to the partners.

On Tuesday, representatives selected from the coalition partners will pay a courtesy visit to the Minister of Education, during which a set of demands from the action points drawn at the roundtable will be presented to the Minister.

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