By Segun Awofadeji in Bauchi

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is to invest the sum of US$58 million to strengthen Bauchi State’s ability to deliver quality education to children in the state.
During a ceremonial launching of the Northern Education Initiative Plus, a five years USAID funded project held at the prestigious Zaranda Hotel,Bauchi Wednesday, the USAID/Nigeria Mission Director, Michael Harvey said the five-year programme, the Northern Education Initiative Plus, introduced by USAID and the Bauchi State Government is to help improve educational performance of students in the state and serve as a model to other states.

He said “more children attending school to learn how to read and write sets the basic foundation for a better life and a stronger economy. The US government and the American people stand behind Nigeria’s efforts to help more children have access to quality education.”

Harvey commended the state government for restructuring the educational sector in the state, assuring that the project will boost the capacities of schools to educate and increase enrollment of more girls and boys as well as help support Hausa literacy for more than 2 million children in Bauchi and
Sokoto states.

While focusing on the priorities of Bauchi and Sokoto states, the initiative aims to strengthen the state and local government institutions that provide education, to teach children to read and to expand access to safe, appropriate learning environments.

“The initiative will support Hausa literacy for nearly 2 million children, 45, 000 instructors to improve their teaching ability, and more than 500, 000 out-of-school children to start attending non-formal learning centers in Bauchi and Sokoto States.”

According to him, for over five decades, the US government, through USAID, has supported Nigeria’s efforts to improve education at all levels. The “Plus” added to the name of the initiative is an indication of that continuing collaboration.

He further said that USAID is the US government agency that supports
long-term and equitable economic growth and advances US foreign policy
objectives by supporting economic growth, agriculture and trade global
health, democracy, conflict prevention and humanitarian assistance.

The Bauchi State Governor, Mohammed Abubakar who launched the project said that the USAID’s Northern Education Initiative seeks to reach nearly 1.6 million children and will be implemented in Bauchi, Sokoto and one other northern state which will soon be announced, adding that the project will also reach out to more than 500,000 out of school children and youths attending 11,000 Non-formal learning centres.
The Governor said over the last several decades, concerted efforts have been with the view to improving the education system in the state without commiserate results and impacts but however noted that for the present administration to attain ” education for all” as encapsulated in the United Nation Sustainable Development goals and MDGs within the shortest possible time, the educational sector must be carefully planned through effective programmes and policies.
Governor Abubakar mentioned that his administration has recorded tremendous successes in the educational sector since assumption of office to include school teachers assessment and verification exercise, prompt payment of the salaries of teachers, improving of school structures, provision of teachers welfare packages and provision of additional learning centres amongst others.
“I am happy to note that what we are doing here today is to improve the social wellbeing of our people, particularly residents in the rural areas. This will go a long way to reduce poverty as enshrined in the change agenda”