14m children are out of school in Nigeria today - Obasanjo

“Please do not let anybody tell you that you are leaders of tomorrow, you are leaders today,” Obasanjo said.
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Former Nigeria’s president, Olusegun Obasanjo

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo announced on Saturday that more than 14 million children who were supposed to be in school in Nigeria today were not in school, and therefore deprived of education.

Obasanjo made that known in Lagos at the second cohort's "Teach for Nigeria Fellows" virtual 2020 Fellowship Graduation Ceremony.

The Nigeria News Agency (NAN) reports that "Teach For Nigeria," an NGO, graduated 161 fellows who affected about 9,660 students in 80 schools across Lagos, Ogun and Kaduna states.

According to NAN, “Teach For Nigeria” focuses on developing a movement of leaders across Nigeria who are committed to putting an end to educational inequity.

Obasanjo said:
“They are deprived of opportunities that will allow them to develop their abilities and become useful to themselves and their communities.

“It is evident that at this point, to transform our education system in a sustainable way, Nigerian youths must take up leadership positions.”

According to him, our youths must champion different innovative solutions at every level of society and across different sectors.

“It is inspiring to see the work that ‘Teach For Nigeria’ is doing to equip promising future leaders with the skills and experience to drive the change that we need,” the former president said.

He added that the leaders had committed their time, energy, and money to fostering a love of learning, improving educational performance, and enhancing life opportunities in the classrooms for the children.

“As a result of your commitment, your pupils have succeeded at various academic and non-academic competitions.

“I recently learnt about pupils of ‘Teach For Nigeria Fellows’ who came second in the National Lafarge Competition and other scholarship opportunities.

“They also initiated actions by working with stakeholders such as parents, community members, heads of schools and other teachers,” Obasanjo said.

He, however, advised the fellows to continue to leverage their acquired skills and experiences to advocate for educational excellence in the country.

The former president urged them to be ambassadors for change, driving the movement for freedom and justice in Nigeria.

“I strongly advise that you remain resilient in your fight for educational equity, not relenting on the strides of deploying solutions to tackle the myriads of problems confronting our education system.

“Please do not let anybody tell you that you are leaders of tomorrow, you are leaders today,” Obasanjo said.

He noted that the outbreak of the raging Coronavirus pandemic has put the planet on its knees as the planet as a whole struggle to create a vaccine and effective therapies to combat the disease.

“So far, the damage in Africa has been moderate; but if we relax, the African continent can become the worst affected from the economic fallout of the crisis,” Obasanjo said.

He said that our education system was already in crisis before the pandemic hit us.

“The outbreak has exacerbated the ever-widening gulf between the learning opportunities of our most privileged children and our less privileged children.

“To close the dangerous gap as a nation, we require prompt action from well-meaning Nigerians imbued with courage, patriotism, commitment, foresight and love,” Obasanjo said.

Folawe Omikunle, the chief executive, Teach For Nigeria, also said graduating fellows have spent the last two years improving their pupils ' academic outcomes.

Omikunle said that they ignited the love for learning in these pupils, instilling self-belief, successfully galvanising parental and community support to aid pupils 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.

“We are positive that our Alumni will continue to work toward ensuring that one day we have a Nigeria where every child can attain an excellent education,” she said.

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