Abuja — President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday decried the rot in the education sector, saying Nigeria could not progress beyond the level and standard of its educational system.
He said it is no longer a secret that the quality of education in the country requires greater attention and improvement.
The President stated these while addressing participants of a special retreat of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) on the challenges facing the education sector in Nigeria held at the Banquet Hall, Abuja.
He said it is those who acquire the most qualitative education, equipped with requisite skills and training, and empowered with practical knowhow that are leading the rest.
Buhari, who said his administration was poised to ensure that every capable Nigerian receives good and quality education in line with his campaign promises during the 2015 elections exercise, said: "With an estimated 13.2 million children out of school, high illiteracy level, infrastructural deficit and decay, unqualified teachers, and inadequate instructional materials, to mention some of the challenges, we can clearly see the effect of decades of neglect that the education sector has suffered.
"We are determined to turnaround the sector for the better."
President Buhari, who expressed optimism that at the end of the retreat, the participants will come up with feasible, implementable but far-reaching action plans, said: "No nation can achieve economic, social, political and cultural prosperity without a sound and functional education system.
"We should also bear in mind that the security and stability of the country hinges, to a large extent, on its ability to provide functional education to its citizens.
Also, the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, who was present at the retreat throughout the sessions, was upbeat that the stakeholders and technocrats there were not cynical but uncharacteristically optimistic about revival of education in the country.
He said: "Our education terms, at this juncture, should address our challenges. Our education plans should be able to solve problems of the soon-to-be fourth largest population on earth. Our strategic objectives should be able to identify what kind of problems we should address in the next few decades... "
He noted that in addressing today's education challenges, the strategy document should not ignore how technology can assist in producing employable graduates too "as classrooms alone cannot help anymore."
In a similar vein, the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, expressed the need for education to be made attractive to the best brains, make its study free, its outcome lucrative and accord it the respect it deserves.
The minister, who also spoke at the retreat, specifically canvassed that graduates with background in Education be employed on Grade Level 10 at entry into the civil service so as to make the sector more attractive like what is obtained in many other nations of the world.
According to him, declaring emergency in the sector will garner the financial and political resources required for the country to tackle the challenges bedeviling it frontally and squarely.
Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi; his Budget and Planning counterpart, Mr. Udo Udoma; Communications and Sports Ministers, Mr. Adebayo Shittu and Mr. Solomon Dalong, who also spoke at the retreat, stressed the need to revive the sector.