Former President, Olusegun Obasanjo, has lamented that the coronavirus pandemic has further worsened the ever-widening gulf between the learning opportunities of the privileged and less-privilege Nigerians.
Obasanjo who noted that the sector was already in crisis before the pandemic hit the country said over 14 million children are not in school, and thereby deprived of education.
The former president spoke at the virtual 2020 Fellowship Graduation ceremony of the second cohort of “Teach for Nigeria Fellows.”
To transform the educational system in a sustainable way, the former Nigerian leader said youths must take up leadership positions championing different innovative solutions at every level of the society and across different sectors.
To close what he described as the dangerous gap, he called for prompt action from well-meaning Nigerians imbued with courage, patriotism, commitment, foresight and love, to spearhead the movement for a new Nigeria generally, and particularly on education.
“I am delighted to be here with you today and commend the work that you are doing, especially during this pandemic, to ensure that children who lack access to online technologies currently being adopted by private schools are able to learn during this period.
‘Some of you are leveraging basic messaging platforms such as Whatsapp, adopting the use of physical work packets and even driving partnerships with the government to provide access to learning. A great example of this is the work you are currently doing with the Ogun State Government to pioneer the broadcast of lessons via state-owned television.
“These, along with many other accomplishments you have achieved during the fellowship programme have shown us that youth leadership coupled with innovation, cooperation and collaboration can indeed be a panacea to the ills in our educational sector and the key to unlocking the full potential of our teeming youth and, by extension, the great potential of our dear country.”
“It is important to know that leadership will not be handed over to you but you have to continue to exert yourselves to get it. After all, as the saying goes, ‘power is not served a la carte, Obasanjo added.
Chief Executive Officer, Teach For Nigeria, Folawe Omikunle said the graduating fellows had spent the past two years improving their academic outcomes.
She said they ignited the love for learning in these pupils, instilling self-belief, successfully galvanising parental and community support to aid pupil’s learning process.
“The graduating 161 fellows are joining our maiden set of 44 Alumni members, thereby bringing the number of our Alumni network to 205 members. Teach For Nigeria is a life-long commitment in the fight against educational inequity.”