Sunday Ehigiator writes that in line with the SDG 4, and in using quality education to drive societal change in Nigeria, Corona Schools Trust Council recently held the maiden edition of the Corona Connect Series, themed, ‘Quality Education: an Imperative for Social Change’ in Lagos
Goal four of the 17 United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is the need for a child to get quality education. According to the UN’s campaign for quality education, obtaining quality education is the foundation to creating sustainable development. In addition to improving the quality of life, access to inclusive education can help equip locals with the tools required to develop innovative solutions to the world’s greatest problems. The United Nations Children Funds (UNCF) formerly called the United Nations Children Emergency Funds (UNICEF) revealed that one in every five of the world’s out-of-school children is in Nigeria.
It further revealed that even though primary education is officially free and compulsory in Nigeria, about 10.5 million Nigerian children aged five to 14 years are not in school; only 61 per cent of six to 11 year olds regularly attend primary school and only 35.6 per cent of children aged 36-59 months receive early childhood education.
Overcoming these challenges, which is believed can be achieved through effective partnership among all stakeholders that would eventually improve the nation’s educational quality and system was the focus at the Corona Schools’ Trust Council’s (CSTC) maiden edition of the Corona Connect Series with the theme ‘Quality Education: An Imperative for Social Change’ and sub-theme: ‘Sustainability Channels for Economic Empowerment- a Spotlight on Education’.
In her opening remarks, the CEO, Corona Schools Trust Council, Mrs. Adeyoyin Adesina said the moment is a proud one for the school, which has been in existence for over five decades to be so championing the course for the advancement of education and socio-economic development in Nigeria.
She described the series as a thought-provoking relationship for education and social economic wellbeing, adding that the aim is to “make a connection for an enabler that not only drives innovation in the classroom, but also in the nation. “Over the last three decades, we have witnessed a number of changes in the education landscape in Nigeria. The sector has not been immune to the economic downturn in the nation characterised by poverty, unemployment rate, rising debt profile, high inflation rate, low human population index, unfavourable trade relations and the like. It is arguable that the poor quality of education has led to this issue or vice-versa. However, Nigeria is a great country. We at Corona believe in Nigeria and with greatness come great expectations.
“Education has no doubt been the worst hit with little attention, little innovation or investment made to the sector. Teachers’ quality is on the decline and we hear mind burgling numbers of out of school children. These are big, complex and national issues on education to contend with, hence the relevance of this series.”
Adesina called on all stakeholders in the education sector, “government, practitioners and investors to rethink education and commit to the implementation of the redesigned framework that has real potential to impact social and economic development in Nigeria.
“Corona’s slogan is ‘A Legacy of World-class Education’ and it is because we want to sustain a quality track record that we embarked on this programme because it is not about us as an institution, but about what will move us forward as a nation.”
In his goodwill message, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu commended CSTC for its efforts in improving the quality of education in the country, and its invaluable contribution over the years to improve the standard and quality of education.
“Education is a potent tool of empowerment and human capital development. It opens the doors for socio-economic development and also for the larger transformation in societies and nations.”
Sanwo-Olu, who was represented by the Commissioner for Education, Mrs. Folasade Adefisayo, stressed that to attain the social change and economic transformation being demanded, “it is imperative that we pay undivided attention to improving our education sector and turning it around both in terms of the content of our syllabus and the introduction of ICT in order to help the younger generation meet up with the rising demands of the digital age.”
Speaking with THISDAY on the efforts of the state government towards quality education and returning out-of-school children to the classrooms, Adefisayo, who was a former Executive Director at CSTC, said the government is currently focused on introducing ICT into school curriculum, reviewing the syllabus, training and massive recruitment of teachers. “Quality education is very imperative. It is going to drive social change in the country. With quality education, then you will have people who can make the change that we need for this country to move forward. I am glad to say that the government of his Sanwo-Olu has actually decided to make education a focus area.
“And he is putting his money in that space, not just saying it. He is also doing everything necessary. So by the THEME’s agenda of the governor, the E there is education and technology, which understand the need to integrate technology into education. Another area of education we are focusing on is infrastructure.”
She added: “Teachers’ development is also part of it because a system cannot rise above the level of its teachers. So we must invest significantly in teachers and not just interns of their quality, but quantity. We are embarking on an exercise to recruit and keep recruiting teachers as they leave so that there would be no gap. And train them.
“In summary, we are addressing where we teach, we are addressing who teaches are and then we are addressing what we teach. We are really working hard on all these and you would soon start hearing a lot of good news from Lagos State.”
In his remarks, former Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr. Okechukwu Enelamah stressed the importance of returning to the basics, saying, “if you look at what is missing in our country today, you would agree with me that we need to return to the basics, we need to produce good leadership, reinstate good values and frankly to build a society that would be globally competitive again.
“And to achieve this, the most important thing is to ensure that the stakeholders are working together just like this Corona Connect Series is trying to do. Hence, government needs to be working with people in the education space, investors, financiers and philanthropies, civil societies and parents to ensure that we are all working together to improve education because the situation is quite desperate in the country today.”
In an interview with THISDAY, the Chairman CSTC, Justice Bukunola Adebiyi stated that educating youths is imperative to the social development of Nigeria. She said the consequences of ignorance are more expensive as compared to the cost of quality education.
“Educating our youths, leaders and ourselves is very imperative to the social development of Nigeria. Definitely, we cannot move without education and as the largest country in Africa in terms of population, we have a lot to contribute, and we have a teeming population of very intelligent people whom if given the opportunity would be able to contribute positively to the growth of this country. Education is necessary and it is the only vehicle that would move us forward as a country and as a nation.”