Obiageli Ezekwesili, senior economic adviser, African Economic Development Policy Initiative (AEDPI), says leaving children of the poor in a failing educational system will consign them to a “dynasty of poverty”.
Ezekwesili said this on Thursday while speaking at the 9th Wole Soyinka Centre media lecture series.
She noted that majority of the poor are found in the failing public school system.
“The children we had in primary school as at the time I worked as head of education in the country, children in public primary schools were 65 to 70 percent, only 30 to 35 percent were in private primary schools,” Ezekwesili said.
“Now guess what, there is a correlation between the poor and the public school attendance, what it means is that, the failing public school system is where you have the majority of the poor, now considering that the availability of power is an important factor in the quantity and quality of studies that children do [get].
“Rather than the children of the poor having access to education as a lifeline to improving their class, in other words their social and economic mobility, we are actually leaving them in failing public school systems that are poorly facilitated, we are consigning them to a permanent life of generational dynasty, a dynasty of povert
“That is so wrong, we must do something to break that situation.”
The former minister of education said it is important to know what the government spends on education.
“When I was leading education in the country, we innovated something called community accountability and transparency initiative. This was supposed to enable all communities to know the amount budgeted for any of the schools and be able to trace the quality of the investment that has been done,” Ezekwesili said.
“The quality of education, by the way, is determined by the quality of the teachers in the class room. Another research says we retain better quality of teachers in the classroom when the school system has energy, for some reason, this is what research points out.”
On his part, Hamid Bobboyi, executive secretary of universal basic education commission (UBEC), said there is no data to know the state of infrastructure of primary schools.
He said without the data, itwas difficult to embark on the needed projects that would enhance the quality of basic education.
“The most important thing is to get the data and start planning,” he said.