Increased funding won’t solve educational challenges, says Ezekwesili

A former Minister of Education, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili has raised doubts about the call for increased funding of the education sector in Nigeria and other African countries, warning that it would not solve challenges bedevilling the sector.

Ezekwesili stated this in Abuja on Tuesday at the launch of Human Capital Africa, an accountability and advocacy initiative which she spearheads.

The event was attended by select media (excluding The PUNCH).

The organisation was launched on the sidelines of the 27th Nigerian Economic Summit with the theme: “Securing our future: The fierce urgency of now”.

While stating that the reducation sector was suffering from a structural deficit, Ezekwesili argued that pumping more funds into the sector without addressing the root problem was a waste of time.

The former Vice President of the World Bank (African Region), observed that investing in foundational literacy and numeracy would formed the basis of Africa’s development strategy.

She said, “By 2030, 90 per cent of the poor people in the world will be in Africa. Right now, it is about 52 per cent. Now let’s imagine what it means to be abandoned badly to the extent that we will now be the only place poverty would be.

“Though funding for education is important, but when I was the minister of education, I usually told my team that if you keep funding a dysfunctional system you won’t get a good outcome. If you have a structural problem, there is a need to correct it before pumping money into the system.

“Existing budget is not giving us the right outcome because the money is not going to the right area. For instance, changing a teaching method is a simple thing that doesn’t need billions to achieve. The worst thing therefore is to keep funding a dysfunction system.”

Quoting a World Bank report, Ezekwesili observed that nine out of 10 children in Sub-Saharan Africa do not achieve basic reading and numeracy skills by the age of 10.

According to her, the statistics was alarming especially when compared to developed economies where only 1 out of 10 children do not achieve basic literacy and numeracy skills at the same age.

The former minister said the organisation would facilitate collaborations to bridge the gap between evidence and action to improve learning outcomes for children under the age of 10, across Sub-Saharan Africa.

She said, “Out of 100,000 children born in each day in Africa 90,000 are unable to read and write before the age of 10. Our region is the only place in the world where girls learn less than boys. If people are not able to learn at the right time, that means the future would be bleak.

“Those denied quality education are victim of a system that has resources to fix the crisis but won’t manage to do that. We need to fix the foundation because if we do that the rest of the level of any structure will stand.”

Ezekwesili said as long as the middle class think that everything is well because they are okay, there won’t be a peaceful society.

“No society gives up because the leaders are not listening. Though we have a political class problem, but we can fix it,” she added.


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