By Tijani Sheriffdeen.
Brain Builders International (BBI), a non-governmental organisation committed to youth empowerment and community development, has organised an event to commemorate the 2019 International Youth Day.
The event which took place in Ilorin, Kwara State capital, on Thursday, had in attendance 100 delegates, who had been invited from a pool of applicants.
Patterned after the year’s theme, “Transforming Education and Contemporary Skills Sustainably: Who has the Biggest Role to Play?”, it featured insightful deliberations and debates led by 10 discussants.
Adopting a roundtable dialogue style, delegates were able to significantly contribute to how some of the country’s biggest challenges to quality education and contemporary skill-learning may be tackled.
In his welcome address, BBI’s Executive Director and National Coordinator, Olasupo Abideen Opeyemi, noted that it’s not unlikely that the average Nigerian feels security is the country’s greatest challenge, but it is also true that the state of Nigeria’s education would bring any conscious mind to tears.
“The challenges our country has continued to face are not unconnected to the underlying effects that stream from the crumbling state of our education sector,” he said.
Quoting Koffi Anan, he added: “Literacy is a bridge from misery to hope. It is a tool for daily life in modern society. It is a bulwark against poverty, and a building block of development, an essential complement to investments in roads, dams, clinics and factories.”
He further said that the United Nations Children’s Fund’s (UNICEF) declaration that about 10.5 million Nigerian children are out of school even though primary education is officially free and compulsory should be enough reason to ponder.
“One can’t but be perplexed by the attitude of our leaders towards the advancement of education in Nigeria,” he said.
“The Federal Government apportioned a paltry sum of N3.9 trillion out of N55.19 trillion approved for budgets in 10 years, the equivalent of 7.7 per cent.”
Concluding, Olasupo said this year’s International Youth Day was strategically planned to bring in concerned officials and stakeholders in the education sector as well as youth to find lasting solutions to the unending challenges in the sector.
The NGO has assured that it will follow-up on the deliberations and resolutions reached at the event by submitting proposals to the appropriate quarters for implementation.
According to the National Bureau of Statistics, Kwara has the lowest literacy level in North Central Nigeria with a below-average 42.6 per cent literacy level. It is also one of the leading states with high levels of illiteracy in Nigeria, having 41.7 per cent of its males and 30.7 per cent of females who are not literate. It has also been noted to have up to 13.4 per cent of its school-age population not attending school.
“These among other reasons necessitated the choice of the theme of this year’s International Youth Day,” BBI’s National Coordinator said.
“There’s no better time than now to start deliberations that would look into transforming education and contemporary skills to match the biddings of this time”, she added.
In her speech, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Education, Hajia Garba, appreciated the efforts of BBI in putting in place the event. She said other civil society organisations have a lot to learn from the NGO.
She also pointed out that societies that are thriving and competing today have so many things in common, one of which is their relentless drive to improving their education, noting that education in this regard is all-encompassing. She said the Ministry she heads is willing to implement changes that are capable of spurring growth while also working with progressive minds like those of the organisers.