Nigeria: Accelerating Progress for 10.5 million Children

Photo: Pupils at Kuje School, outside Abuja, Nigeria. © A World at School / Nick Cavanagh 2013
On September 9 2013, the Global Business Coalition for Education, together with the UN Special Envoy for Global Education, Gordon Brown, and global development partners, convened in Nigeria to meet with President Goodluck Jonathan, his Ministers, State Governors and Commissioners of Education.  The summit, held in the State House in Abuja, focused on the development of plans and political will to deliver on quality learning opportunities for the 10.5 million out-of-school children in Nigeria.
Aliko Dangote, President of founding member company Dangote Group, formally represented GBC-Education at the meeting.  Also present were Strive Masiyiwa, CEO of founding member Econet Wireless, Niyi Yusuf, Managing Director of the Nigerian office for founding member Accenture, and Advisory Board Member, Nduka Obaigbena, founder of ThisDay.
Key issues facing education were highlighted as the Ministers of Education and Finance, the Chairmen of the House and Senate Committees on Education and the State Governors delivered their remarks.  Most significant were challenges with teacher supply and training especially in the North; economic barriers limiting education demand by poor households and for girls; and insufficient state finances required to access the Universal Basic Education Fund.
Rt. Hon. Gordon Brown announced a contribution of USD$250 million from the international community to match current Federal funds for education, in addition to the proposals presented by the business community.  Mr. Brown also highlighted the need to restructure financial incentives to support state access of education funds and to employ conditional cash transfers to support the demand for education, especially for girls.
Technology was noted as critical to take teacher-training pilots to scale and strengthen curricula to develop numeracy and literacy skills.  Econet Wireless was highlighted as a key business partner to implement these technology initiatives.  As stated by CEO, Strive Masiyiwa, “Within five years, every phone in Africa will be a smart phone that can link to current curricula and knowledge.  There will be nothing stopping the poorest child and most disadvantaged teacher from accessing the best quality of education and training.”
GBC-Education representatives highlighted the need to track outcome indicators such as improvements in literacy and numeracy so business can measure the impact of investments in education.  Civil society and youth must also be engaged, as shown with the petition that was launched on A World at School and run by ThisDay in local newspapers, which calls for action on education in Nigeria.
Ministers, Governors, Commissioners and the UN Special Envoy for Global Education recognized GBC-Education as a central voice for business in global education, and this was bolstered by the announcement of the appointment of Aliko Dangote to the Steering Committee of the UN Secretary-General’s Global Education First Initiative.
The next phase of accelerating progress to 2015 in Nigeria will involve a state-by-state analysis of education in Nigeria.  It will also be important to press for the concretization of state level plans and commitment to deliver education.