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World Education Week In Perspective: Onuchuku, Odo, Akinola, Others Brainstorm On Quality Education, Gender Equality

The World Education Week, commemorated in Nigeria from the 5th – 9th October, 2020 may have come and gone but its echoes have refused to recede. From Nigeria, it was a moment of stock-taking and critical review of the education sector with a view to charting the way forward for improved and quality education both for the male and female genders.

This year’s event did not go without the academic pillars lending their voices on how to tackle the dwindling academic standard in the country.  Opinions were particularly canvassed on bridging the widening educational gap between the male and female folks.

With the limitations placed on physical socialization, no thanks to the Covid-19 infamy, it became necessary to observe the six-day global education showcase online, with over 85,000 registered attendees in 146 countries– with a rallying cry supporting education’s key position as the foundation for bringing countries out of poverty.

At precisely 4.00pm on Tuesday, October 20, 2020, (West African Time), the Network For Women and Public Policy ( NETWAPP) hosted this a webinar to extensively Educate the Public on the critical issues of Policy as it concerns Education in Nigeria and other countries in Africa as well as take a look at opportunities and the various ways through which Policies can be developed and implemented to achieve gender equality and guarantee equity and quality Education for all.

The webinar which had as its topic:“Policy as a tool for gender equalization and equity in Education”, had as facilitators – Professor Okey Onuchuku, Dean University of Port-Harcourt Business School; Professor Grace Akinola, Dept.of Mgt. and Accounting, Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Special Adviser on Higher Education, Bursary and Scholarship to the past Governor of Osun State, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola; Dr Violet Makuku, Higher Education Quality Assurance specialist, Project Manager (HAQAA Initiative) and Coordinator at Association of African Universities, Ghana; Professor Uche Odoh, Professor of Pharmacology and Environmental Sciences, University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN), CSIR-TWAS Fellow, Vice President, African Women in Leadership Organization, Enugu State, Nigeria; Professor Chris Funke Ifeta, Professor of Arts and History ,Tai Solarin University of Education, first female Sculpture in Nigeria and Maureen Omeibe, Founder, Network For Women and Policy, Executive Director, Degab Groups Nigeria.

The programme had contributors in the persons of Dr Tosin Ekundayo, Author, Snr. Lecturer, Synergy University, United Arab Emirates; Moderator: Regina Chris Ogbodo, CEO, Lead Consultant, Reggypanache and; Training Consult, NETWAPP Team Lead (Awareness and Media) Emmanuella Edun- Adedeji.

Firing the opening salvo, Professor Onuchuku who spoke on the title: “Existing Policies in Education, Budgetary Allocation and Implementation as a tool for Equitable and Quality Education for all”, pointed to what he saw as a glaring shortfall and the Inadequacy of Education Budgetary allocations in Nigeria as well as a noticeable deficiency in its provisions.

“As at date there is no policy provision for the millions of Nigerians out of school as a result of poverty. Education policy should be designed to ensure that everyone has access to basic Education at all times”, he posited.

As part of his recommendations, the varsity don said government should as a matter of urgency, raise the budgetary allocation for education to improve learning infrastructures and quality of education across board.

He also suggested that provisions should be expanded to cater for those who cannot afford education and education incentives for the female gender who represent a larger population of out of school children and adults in Nigeria.

He further said: “Institutions should rise to the challenges of sexual harassment and assault in schools. Strong awareness programmes and documented Policies must be developed and disseminated across secondary and tertiary institutions. University of Port-Harcourt in Nigeria is exemplary on this as they have a sexual harassment policy document transmitted through a handbook”.

Professor Onuchuku also urged NGOs like Network for Women and Public Policy (NETWAPP) to engage with Development Commissions such as the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) to seek for ways of providing scholarship opportunities for Women especially in fields where they are not well represented.

In her presentation, Professor Uche Odo said study showed that sixteen million girls in Nigeria  would not set their feet in school during their life time, urging amongst others that government should increase investment in providing more schools in the rural areas as the young women are often not given or allowed to travel distances just to attend schools.

Also speaking, Professor Grace Akinola said the policy inconsistencies and somersault in the Nigerian system of government have drastically impaired the ability of education policies to yield to consistent tractions of opportunities offered to solve the massive shortfall in Education in the country.

As a solution, Prof. Akinola urges governments across board to isolate politics from the education system, adding that impactful educational policies and incentives must be sustained irrespective of the party in power.

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