Education is viewed by experts as a human right, a public good and a public responsibility. The importance of education cannot be over emphasized.
It was in recognition of its importance that led to the United Nations General Assembly Declaration of the 24th of every January as the International Day of Education, aimed at celebrating the role of education as a tool for achieving PEACE and DEVELOPMENT.
This international celebration came into existence in 2019. This year’s celebration, which is the 3rd (third) falls on Monday 25th of January, 2021. To achieve peace and development, inclusive, equitable, quality, sustainable and lifelong educational opportunities for ALL must be pursued with vigour.
THEME OF 2021 CELEBRATION
The theme for this year’s celebration is “RECOVER AND REVITALIZE EDUCATION FOR THE COVID-19 GENERATION ”
This theme implies that COVID-19 actually has negatively affected education, so the need to recover all that were lost during the COVID-19 LOCKDOWN is very obvious.
STATISTICAL FACTS AND FIGURES ON EDUCATION – SDG 4 REFERS
* A statistical report had it that 258 million children and youth do not attend school.
* 617 million children and adolescents cannot read
*Less than 40% of girls in sub Sahara Africa complete lower secondary school
57million primary age children remain out of school.
* More than half of children that have not enrolled in school live in sub Sahara .
* An estimated 50% of out of school children of primary school age live in conflict affected areas.
Above are part of the plight of our children in this part of the world and people are making efforts to reverse the situation.
Is it not ironical then that while the world at large and other States in Nigeria are making constructive plans and launching creative initiatives to beat the challenges of the effect of COVID-19 on the education of their children through retraining of their teachers on the skills needed for distance teaching and learning as well as upgrading their welfare packages, to serve as palliatives and motivate them to willingly and happily put extra time /efforts to make up for the lost time in their academic calendar, Abia State school system is shut down owing to the insensitivity of the government to the yearnings of her teachers for improved work conditions?
Could it be said that the present administration does not realize the importance of education and the role good educational foundation plays in building characters and mind sets of the young ones?
In case the Abia State government is oblivious of the role of education, which is why it is now one of the international celebrations, some of the points below can help to pull them back on track.
(1) Education transforms lives and stirs up the spirit of cooperation and accommodation among pupils/students, which sustain them to live harmoniously later in life.
(2) Education is a Human Rights issue. It is enshrined in article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and it calls for FREE and COMPULSORY primary education that must be ACCESSIBLE to ALL
(3) Education is key to sustainable development. Goal 4 of the SDGs controls the other 16 Goals. Education is a ladder out of poverty and serves as a stepping stone towards enjoying promising future for all. Inclusive and quality education promotes Gender Equality, improves healthy habits and care of the environment, eliminates child marriage, fights hate speech and xenophobia. It builds integrity and self esteem. All these knowledge reduces death.
The importance of education can be summarized by words of two powerful leaders:
* Malala Yousafzai, the UN Messenger of Peace once said ” One Child, One Teacher, One Book and One Pen can change the world”
*Nelson Mandela, in support of education described it as ” the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world ”
If such well read and highly placed persons in the history of world leaders could recognize that education is the key for positive changes, one wonders why this state government should not make haste to return teachers and learners to school.
This State cannot afford a generation of young people who lack the skills needed to compete with their mates in other states and to perfectly adjust to the 21st Century World and Economies. Interestingly, this is where the efforts of critical education stakeholders like the civil society comes in.
CSACEFA, that is, Civil Society Action Coalition on Education for All, an umbrella education focused. Network of Civil Society Organizations in Nigeria holds the view, and rightly too that education should be given its proper and centre page position in Nigeria.
CSACEFA holds the view that this is the time to power education by opening up and stepping up synergy and collaborations with genuine Stakeholders in education to place education at the centre of recovery of all that were lost during the COVID-19 era and it’s associated set backs. CSACEFA wants the government to realize that with the Strike on, most of the learners are denied educational opportunities.
It is only a very minute and insignificant percentage learners are attending school. It is very clear that we are shooting ourselves on the leg?
CSACEFA,therefore, calls on the State government to look into the demands of Abia Secondary and Primary School Teachers and ensure that schools resume as soon as possible.
CSACEFA appreciates the concerns of Abia Teachers. She appeals to both parties to take responsibility in ensuring that normalcy returns and that conducive atmosphere is created for teaching and learning. It is worthy of note that the longer the children stay at home, the more out of school children would be recorded and also the more the incidents of Child Abuse, child labour, child marriages, unwanted pregnancies and abortions.
Egbuna Eunice (Mrs )
Abia State Coordinator and South East Zonal Coordinator