The National Economic Council (NEC) says 15 states have qualified to benefit from the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) funding for education as part of measures to cushion the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on the sector.
Gov. Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State disclosed this while virtually briefing State House correspondents after the virtual NEC meeting presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on Thursday.
The virtual NEC meeting was anchored from the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
“I am very pleased to announce that the Federal Government has put in place some financial incentives to assist the states in implementing the education COVID-19 plan.
“Selected states are to benefit from the COVID-19 GPE global partnership for education funding; those that are above the national average from at least two of three criteria.
“The states that have qualified are Abia, Anambra, Akwa Ibom, Benue, Ebonyi, Jigawa, Kaduna, Katsina, Kebbi, Kano, Nassarawa, Niger, Plateau, Sokoto and Zamfara.
“These are the states that made two of the three criteria for GPE funding; this is the grant from the World Bank and other donors.’’
He said the Federal Ministry of Education presented to NEC a broad overview of the education sector and how the education of Nigerian students in the COVID-19 era could continue.
El-Rufai said that the Ministry of Education approved the closure of schools and tertiary institutions on March 19 before a formal lockdown was announced.
“Some actions taken so far to mitigate the learning loss among children are the education sector COVID-19 strategy and National Education Sector COVID-19 Response Plan in collaboration with parastatals, development partners, public health experts, and the Nigerian education group.
“The Federal Government also constituted a ministerial task force on COVID-19.
“The primary objectives of the COVID-19 education response plan are to ensure that all children continue learning through access to the best remote learning programmes and appropriate for each context to meet the needs of each child, including the most vulnerable.
“ Some may have access to the internet, but the poorest can get their lessons over the radio; some through television.
“So, the whole plethora of platforms was made available so that no one is left behind.’’
He said that the federal and state governments were working towards ensuring a safe opening up of the educational system.
The governor said, first, capacity must be built for teachers for ongoing development and deployment of technology in teaching.
According to him, teaching with digital technology is new and requires a lot of training as well as providing technical assistance in selection and delivery of online digital content and offline learning resources among others.
“Some of the measures to arrest the potential growth in the number of out of school children, arising from the situation we had before the pandemic and during the pandemic are as follows:
“Disbursement of the Federal Government of Nigeria, UBE intervention funds to states on equality basis to states.
“This is to enable them to implement tangible state based priority projects, including the building of schools or additional classrooms, renovations, rehabilitations, procurement of furniture and equipment etc with focus on enrolling more pupils or having more flexibility to do shifts.
“The Almajiri integrated Quaranic teaching school programmes to mainstream the Almajiri boys into basic education and eradicate the out-of-school children syndrome in northern Nigeria.
“Open schooling, which is principally aimed at reducing the number of out-of-school children in the country, among others, ‘’ he said.
El-Rufai said that, going forward, there should be a national training programme to equip all university lecturers in delivering blended learning.
The governor said that NEC also recommended accelerating and strengthening the management of an electronic digital identity management system for all Nigerians.
El-Rufai explained that such digital identity would aid easy enrolment, retention and completion of learners at all levels as well as curb fraud, forgery and alteration of certificates. (NAN)
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