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Sunday, 12 July 2020

Education Minister Calls for Public-Private Sector Partnership for Schools Adoption

The Minister of State for Education Hon. Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba has called on key players in the education sector to support the federal government in its efforts at moving the education sector forward.

Nwajiuba disclosed this at the maiden edition of Re-ignite Public Affairs National Dialogue Series where he was the keynote speaker. The event, in partnership with Businessday Media, was held via the platform of zoom webinar and was the theme, Nigeria @ 60, Education: Navigating a New Normal.

The Minister, in response to a submission by one of the panellists Uchenna Onwuamaegbu-Ugwu, a STEM education advocate who canvassed for the government to collaborate with key players in the areas of curriculum, skills development and schools adoption, emphasised that his ministry is already working out a framework for bringing in private sector players to come in and adopt public schools that are not doing well.

“Essentially we are going to be changing to the STEM curriculum and enhance it. We are going to be responding more to what players in the sector are going to be asking us to do. We are stepping up with private sector players because we have realised that we cannot do it alone. We are bringing everybody on board through Public-Private Partnership. For instance, we have a lot of public schools that are not doing well; so instead of building new schools, why can’t we concession some of these schools to those who have the capacity to adopt and manage them very well? Those are the kinds of work I want to do. I had proposed this when I was the Chairman of TETFUND”.

Government, he said, “does not have all of the funding or the essence but we have regulators; National Assembly is a regulatory agency, the ministries and all of us functioning in the ecosystem will have to step up and participate a bit better and that is why I am here at Reignite Public Affairs National Dialogue Series, this opportunity is great”.

Speaking on schools resumption in the face of the COVID-19 new normal, the Honorable Minister disclosed that “government’s priority is to safeguard ourselves, our learners and teachers in navigating the new normal. Most of the things we are doing now are how to carry the leaners forward in the new system”.

The event was moderated by Modupe Adefeso-Olateju Phd., an education policy expert specialising in public-private partnerships in education. She is the Managing Director of The Education Partnership Centre (TEP Centre) and Programme Director of the LEARNigeria Citizen-Led Assessment and Advocacy Programme.

Hon. Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, Minister of State for Education was the Keynote Speaker, while an eminent faculty of discussants made up of Hon. Prof. Julius O. Ihonvbere OON: Chairman, Federal House Committee on Basic Education; Hajia Fatima Hamza, Former Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Development, Jigawa State and Founding Trustee, Al-Amanah Foundation/ School Head, Al-Amanah Academy, Kaduna; and Uchenna Onwuamaegbu-Ugwu: STEM Education Advocate, Mentor, Speaker, Girls Champion/Obama Foundation, African Leader/Mandela Washington Fellow, made the event outstanding with robust conversations on how to reposition the education sector to meet the opportunities of the 4th industrial revolution.

In the course of his submission, an erudite scholar and former Special Adviser to the President on Policy and Programmes Monitoring who is presently the Honorable Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Basic Education and Services Prof. Julius O. Ihonvbere, stated that COVID-19 has provided Nigeria with a good opportunity to develop its infrastructure. “It has exposed the underbelly of the weaknesses of the society and the political class and now we see the relative weaknesses not just in Nigeria but the world and thus a good opportunity for us to rethink and reset”. He added: “it is not too late, it is not impossible, but there has to be the commitment and leadership at the resources and we have to address both the content and context of education.

In his opening remarks, Franklyn Ginger-Eke, Executive Director/COO Re-ignite Public Affairs stated that Re-ignite Public Affairs National Dialogue Series which is a knowledge-based policy analysis forum for collating refined submissions of public and private sector stakeholders. "This will form the basis for shaping the immediate and long term future. As Nigeria marches towards her 60th Independence anniversary, there is a critical need to review her progress in key sectors that have the extreme potential to catalyze national development. This becomes even more strident in this era of COVID 19 pandemic which demands a fresh approach to old challenges. For this purpose, our focus areas are health, education, economy, agriculture, governance, infrastructure and security".

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