By Chijioke Okoronkwo
The Federal Government introduced new education policy known as `Every Child Counts’, to encourage children enrolment in schools.
A statement issued on Wednesday by Laolu Akande, Senior Special Assistant to the Vice President on Media and Publicity, quoted Prof. Yemi Osinbajo as saying this in Lagos.
Osinbajo spoke at the 60th Anniversary of Grange School, Lagos, on Tuesday.
According to the vice president, Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country; and like the rest of the continent, it is a nation of young people as half of its population is below the age of 20.
He said that Nigeria would be the third most populous country in the world by 2050 and would have a large youth population that could be a tremendous blessing for economic growth and prosperity.
Osinbajo, however, said that the population could also be a problem especially if Nigeria did not plan well and in advance as extreme poverty further complicated the problem for a country like Nigeria.
He said there was need to increase school enrolment which had increased in many cases by over 30 per cent in the last 2 ½ years, largely on account of our school feeding programme.
Osinbajo said that to eradicate poverty, Nigeria’s education must equip the young to be productive as the Federal Government was working on far-reaching skills-based curriculum on Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics.
“This is the curriculum for primary and secondary schools.
“The core skills the programme will provide include: (1) Coding and Computer Programming; (2) Design Thinking and Computer Generated Imaging, Animation and Graphics Design; (3) Robotics, Networking and basic engineering applications.
“We have a programme called the N-Power programme and about 3,000 of them are currently being trained in animation skills and techniques and we found that people take so easily to learn some of these things.
“In fact, the younger people are, the easier it is for them to learn all of these technology skills.
“So, we think that to develop the kinds of young people who will be able to take on the kind of challenges of the 21st century and get the kind of work that the 21st century is producing already, we simply have to change the way we teach and what we teach.’’
He said the Federal Government was working in collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Oracle Academy, Microsoft Cisco Academy and IBM.
According to him, they are working with the Federal Government in developing the curriculum alongside, the Federal Ministry of Education and the respective states.
The vice president said that the immediate plan was to reach, with this sort of education, at least 2 million pupils in the first year.
“The plan also envisions a new classroom structure that permits the cultivation, expression and early adoption of skills that will function in the environment that is already being created – the technology environment that is already being created.
“The next question we asked is, for whom do we plan? The answer is quite straightforward – it is the Nigerian child.
“Not just the ones in the urban areas or the few that are privileged to afford decent schooling above the weakened standards of public schooling generally.
“The real slogan for us is “Every Child Counts” and that is the name of the policy, which means we have democratised our vision of a qualitative and relevant education to reach every Nigerian child.
“Every Child Counts” ensures that all children, especially the number reported to be out of school now, and in those areas where children tend to drop out of school much faster, all of them deserve to get a decent education, all of them must be reached by this programme,’’ he said.
Osinbajo said he was proud of the way Grange School had collaborated with his office in some of the important work it was doing at the learning centre in Maiduguri.