Poor basic education, breach of children’s rights – Experts

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Inadequacy in basic learning is a core breach of the fundamental human rights of children, which must be addressed, experts have said.

This breach, according to the experts, is the reason Nigeria is currently witnessing a staggering education crisis, where learning outcomes have become the poorest globally.

The crisis, they say, has become so alarming that even children who have managed to enroll in basic schools are not learning.

A recent World Bank research indicates that Nigeria is going through learning poverty, where 70% of 10-year-olds who are in school cannot understand a simple sentence or perform basic numeracy tasks while 69% of primary school teachers are unqualified to be in the classroom.

Elhadji Diop, an education specialist at UNICEF, while addressing a Media Dialogue on Foundational Literacy and Numeracy (FLN), said education, being a fundamental human right of every child, must be upheld.

‘‘Education is a fundamental human right and that right is well-articulated in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, including the Nigerian Constitution,’’ he says.

To address the challenge of poor learning, Diop insists achieving basic learning outcomes is important while improving foundational skills at that level is also key.

Also explaining that Nigeria is not only grappling with 10.5 million out of school children, UNICEF Communications Specialist, Dr. Geofferry Njoku, warned that the country is now also faced with the challenge of those in school not learning adequately.

He advised that attention be paid to literacy and numeracy, which are the foundational basis of education.

‘‘It is about time we focused on learning for children through teacher training, changing the curriculum and changing the quality of education,” he said.

Njoku advised that the success of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), is tied to the implementation of the Child Rights Act.

Manar Ahmed, another expert, in a presentation expressed worry that an unprepared workforce, insufficient physical resources and low school readiness are the reasons behind the low learning outcomes in basic school.

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She emphasized that Nigeria’s problem is not the dearth of policies but the proper implementation of the available policies, stressing that despite programs on improving basic education, much more is needed to be done, especially at the basic level.

“Goal four of the SDGs is to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education that promotes lifelong learning and all children by age 10 must know how to read and solve numeracy.

“It is not that Nigeria lacks the right policy but Nigeria is facing a staggering crisis with learning outcomes being one of the lowest.

“So, 70% of the children in school are not achieving basic foundational skills,” she said.

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