Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has said urgent steps need to be taken to tackle Nigeria’s rising rate of out-of-school children.
Obasanjo said this at the national summit on tertiary education reform, organised by the House of Representatives held in Abuja.
The former president said addressing tertiary education reform begins with the foundation of childhood education and ensuring access to quality learning opportunities for all children.
He said Nigeria needs to urgently address the problem of out-of-school of school children to avoid breeding future insurgents.
“Where did we miss the road? We missed the road when the whole world was talking of popular education — education for all — and we did not follow that. It was a bad miss. We even had target date globally,” he said.
“We, today, out of 244 million children out of school, we have 20 million — almost 10 percent. We missed, we continue to miss, and we are missing. That is a very bad one.
“Can we do anything about it? I believe we can. Those 20 million children that are out of school, we can get them back to school. If we don’t get them back to school, we are preparing for Boko Haram of tomorrow. And nobody needs to tell you anything about that. It will happen as sure as daylight.
“And what can we do? Where are these 20 million children located? Can we have schools in the morning and schools in the afternoon to get them in at least for six years?
“In the period of six years when this is happening, we will prepare for the transition from primary school to secondary school. And if we are able to do that, we have started the process of dealing with education as an instrument of nation building.”
In September 2022, the United Nations had put Nigeria’s figure of out-of-school children and youths at over 20 million.
Meanwhile, as of March 2021, the number of out-of-school children, according to Nigeria’s ministry of education, was less than 11 million.