“There is classic failure in governance that creates the kind of problems and situations we have in the areas of delivery of basic services like education and health to our citizens.”
Former Minister of Education, Obiageli Ezekwesili, stated this, on Thursday, when her team at Human Capital Africa, an accountability initiative, visited Not Forgotten Initiative School, a non-profit school set up provide free access to education in Abuja.
Noting that no single government can solve all the problems of the country alone, Ezekwesili, who is the convener, FixPolitics, and Founder, School of Politics, Policy and Governance, explained that citizens must be part of the process of solving problems in society.
During the visit, which was part of activities to mark her 60th birthday, HCA donated N2m and adopted the school for further intervention programmes.
While applauding the founder of the school, Tosin Adeniyi, for coming up with the initiative as part of efforts to reduce the number of out-of-school children in Nigeria, she lamented that classic failure in governance suggested that citizens must also play their own role in developing the society.
She stated, “But then, there is also the part where this initiative does not necessarily have to be because of the failure of government. It is rather an initiative where citizens are showing that they can be contributors to solving society’s multiple needs. The kinds of needs that we have are humongous, that even the best government acting alone would not be able to solve all of them.
“So, all citizens must be part of the process of solving problems in society. But I think that what her initiative does is that, it will create an example, so that the government will see that if you did this kind of a programme in a certain kind of way, the children in the school will actually not just come to school, but they will learn literacy and numeracy, which is a major challenge.”
The foundational level, according to Ezekwesili, a former Vice President (Africa) of the World Bank, is the most critical level in education, adding that the country needs more impact-focused Nigerians who can choose to make a positive difference in the lives of others.
Ezekwesili said, “She (Adeniyi) looked around her environment and saw children, who were out of school. They are children of parents that live in those makeshift houses you see around in this neighbourhood in Asokoro. Then, she decided that she must do something about it and ensure that they get education, and she started literally under the tree.
“The foundational level that she is addressing is the most critical level in education because it determines what will happen at all other levels.
“Nigerians must understand that what she is doing, what she has done, is formidable for the society and so the more we celebrate these kinds of citizens’ initiatives that work, the more government will be forced to do the right things to make sure that all of our children get the education necessary for economic and social mobility.”
Speaking, Adeniyi urged government to make education accessible to every child and provide adequate supervision, so as not to give room for failure.
Her words, “Today, we have 85 kids in the school. We have 27 on our scholarship, 10 in Federal Government college and about four in the university.
“Government should make education accessible to every child, and not leave any child behind. They should also provide the supervision it requires. So, it is not just setting up a school, but ensuring that the right thing is being taught and personnel are motivated to do the right thing.”