This Day (Lagos)

Nigeria: DFID Commits N46.2 Billion to Education Development

The United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID) is to support the development of the Nigerian education sector with N46.2 billion.

Equally, the speaker of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Parliament, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, has called for concerted efforts among national and regional parliaments to combat child trafficking and child labour.

Ekweremadu made the call at the opening of a regional seminar themed: "Joining the Initiatives and Experiences of National Parliaments for Effective Campaign against Child Trafficking and Labour", hosted in Abuja for national and regional parliamentarians.

The fund is to ensure that about 800,000 children, 600,000 of whom are girls, get into school and access improved learning outcome by 2014.

Senior Education Adviser, DFID Nigeria, Barbara Payne, disclosed this yesterday in Abuja at an interactive session between the Ministry of Education and the International Development Partners (IDPS).

Payne said DFID supports two main programmes in Nigeria: the Education Sector Support Programme (ESSPIN) which operates in six states - Lagos, Enugu, Kwara, Kaduna, Kano and Jigawa - and the Girls Education Project, Phase three, which runs from 2011 to 2019 and is expected to gulp 36 million pounds.

On the girl child education, the stated that the project which was recently approved was aimed at improving the quality of education and get one million girls into schools and keep them there in the four existing states of Katsina, Niger, Bauchi and Sokoto.

"The plan is to expand into a possible six more states, two each year till there are ten states," she said.

Other areas which Payne disclosed that the DFID plans to support education are the Teacher Development Project (TDP) which will commence from 2012 to 2018 and expected to gulp 36 million pounds and the Low Cost Private School Initiative in Lagos which cost is put at 15million pounds and will run from 2012 to 2017.

Earlier, the Minister of Education, Prof. Rukayyatu Rufa'i, said the meeting was perfectly timed as it came at a time when the ministry was almost implementing its four-year strategy plan and called on development partners to support government transformation programme.

"You have been consistent partners in the drive to reposition the education sector. We are now working to implement the plan, in the blight of this, we have a focused, and we have a focused and coordinated approach to ensure that resources are properly utilised in priority areas.

"The purpose of these meeting is there for us to highlight our area of priority and provide a direction on specific areas that we would like you to direct your assistance," she said.

Meanwhile, Ekweremadu while speaking at the joint seminar by the ECOWAS Parliament, the Inter-Parliamentary Union, the Sahel and West Africa Club and Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, described child trafficking and child labour as two sides of an ugly coin.

He maintained that both child trafficking and child labour go hand-in-hand since the demand for and availability of one naturally fuels the other, describing child labour as the, "the ugliest and saddest form of enslavement."

Also the Deputy Senate President raised the alarm over the number children between five to 14 years trapped in child labour globally.

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