Richard Joseph, an emeritus professor of political science at Northwestern University, Illinois, United States, says urgent steps need to be taken to improve access to education for Nigeria’s out-of-school children.
He spoke over the weekend when he featured on ‘The Toyin Falola Interview Series’, a project by Toyin Falola, professor of history at the University of Texas.
As of March 2021, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, the minister of state for education, had said Nigeria has 10.1 million out-of-school children.
Joseph, who said having millions of children out of school is a crime, added that failure to address the challenges will affect the country’s overall development.
“In my writings, I refer to the fact that a concept was used: ‘a futureless youth’. I think that our youths are really being deprived of a very fundamental right and that’s a right to an education,” he said.
“Education was as important as what you’re having for breakfast and dinner. We don’t joke with education. I was part of the independent movement that there should be education. Chief Awolowo and his colleagues ensured free education at all levels.
“Education was seen as a very fundamental part of the liberation. We have over 13 million children in Nigeria who are not in school. I mean that’s a crime. All children should be entitled to schooling up to a certain level. We have hundreds of millions taken away for all kinds of processes and not educating our children.
“I just feel like we’ve got some fundamental work to do. If the children are not being educated, what’s the prospect of them going forward? It is a loss to the society if they cannot function at a certain level. I wouldn’t be here in front of you if it was not for an insistence on education.”