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15 May 2013

US agency backs Nigeria’s Basic Education with N17bn

Written by Clement Idoko and Adetola Bademosi - Abuja THE United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has intervened with the sum of N17 billion to fund basic education in Nigeria. This is even as the Minister of Education, Professor Ruqayyatu Ahmed Rufa’i, has expressed concern that the number of out-of-school children in Nigeria has risen to 10.5 million. She made these disclosure at meeting with delegation of USAID on Monday, in Abuja. According to her, about N6 billion was set aside out of the intervention to boost the access of children to school in the next three years. She noted that Nigeria was the largest in the world which has 10.5 million children roaming the streets when compared to other countries with lesser population. The minister stated that the greatest challenge in the education sector has remained the ability to meet the ‘Education For All’ initiative by 2015; hence, the need for supports was imperative. She further highlighted the need for the world to support Nigeria in its drive to provide access and quality education to Nigerian children. “Apart from this intervention, the USAID had been supporting Nigeria as a country. It shows that the USAID is more than ready to support Nigeria, especially in the issue of having children in schools. Nigeria is presently having 10.5 million out-of-school children; the world needs to support the country’s drive to achieve the ‘Education For All’ initiative by 2015,” she said. During a breakdown of the intervention, team leader of education in Nigeria, Dr Jill Jupiter Jones, explained that the intervention would also include the reading project set to last for five years. She stated that the need for the project was imperative, in order to address the menace of students who cannot read, adding that the project was set to increase the number of students who were performing better in this area. She disclosed it was working on strengthening the capacity of technical persons at the state levels, which would last for a period of three years, noting that about five to seven states would be focused on in northern states. “Nigeria has the largest population of out-of-school children in the world. Our main concern is looking at the increase to access of children to school in the next three years. We plan on increasing the number of projects for $40 million of roughly N6 billion.