Princess Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Sustainable Development Goals (SSAP-SDGs), says it is imperative for stakeholders in the education sector to increase their level of investment and funding of the sector for an inclusive education.
Orelope-Adefulire also said following the COVID-19 pandemic there was an urgent need to address the disparity in access to education by Nigerian school-age children.
“The forced closure of schools across the country has made it necessary for all stakeholders to work towards an inclusive and equitable education for all children regardless of their socio-economic background,’’ she said in a statement commemorating Children’s Day obtained by Persecondnews.
The presidential adviser lauded President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration for sustaining the national school feeding programme in a bid to give succour to the underprivileged pupils, who may have been worse hit by the COVID-19 lockdown.
Orelope-Adefulire also commended the Federal Ministry of Education for launching subscription-free portal to enable students in primary and secondary levels to access educational materials while at home as well as for its collaboration with telecoms service providers to grant the students free access to the portals on their mobile phones.
She noted that while some children from privileged background have been able to continue their education from home after the closure of their schools, the situation was different for pupils from poor homes.
“This disparity must be addressed not just because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but as part of measures to reduce the ever increasing disparity in the quality of education available to children in the country.
“While some Federal and State Governments are putting in place structures to ensure that children are able to learn from home, more still needs to be done to make this a reality for many of our children in the rural areas,” the former Lagos State Deputy Governor said.
She, however, expressed fears that many of the school children, especially the girls might not return when schools reopen, a situation she noted would be a great setback to efforts to achieve SDGs in Nigeria.
“The girl-child which is already disadvantaged in terms of access to education may be affected more. We challenge all stakeholders, especially at the community levels to take up the advocacy of ensuring that COVID-19 will not result in exit of pupils from the educational system, ‘’ Orelope-Adefulire said.