By Ben Agande
Abuja — Nigeria is to access $500 million from international funding agencies to boost educational development and enhance access to universal basic education in the country.
Former Prime Minister of Britain, Mr. Gordon Brown, who disclosed this yesterday at the meeting of Coalition of Interventions to Support Access and Quality of Education in Nigeria, said the international agencies were from Europe and America.
President Goodluck Jonathan, who hosted the meeting at the banquet hall of the Presidential Villa yesterday, also reaffirmed his administration’s commitment to the effective implementation of policies and measures that would ensure that Nigerian youths received qualitative education that will equip them with essential skills and competencies required by employers.
Gordon Brown speaks
Speaking on efforts of the international agencies, Brown said: “Federal Government of Nigeria has made available $250 million for investment in education by the states.
“What we have managed to do by talking to the individual agencies over the last few days is to match that $250 million by the additional $250 million making possible new investment of $500 million in education in Nigeria.”
He explained that the Global Partnership for Education and the United States Agency for International Development, USAID, had agreed to contribute $100 million each for the development of universal education, while the Federal Government, in collaboration with state governments, had already provided $250 million for the development of education in the country.
“I believe that additional cash transfers for training and introduction of new technologies can now match the initiatives that have been taken by Mr. Dangote from the business community and other initiatives among five agencies,” he said.
7-year EU grant
He also pointed out that Nigeria stood to benefit from a seven-year term European Union grant that would be devoted to the development of education.
He said: “I have talked to the head of the development commission for the European Union EU, and he said he will tell the government of Nigeria to submit an application from time to time for the next seven years.
“Its terms will be devoted to education development in Nigeria. So, it’s up to the government to make the application.”
Jonathan makes promises
Speaking earlier at an audience with the former British Prime Minister, President Jonathan said his administration would continue to evolve and execute programmes and actions to improve access to quality education across the country to create a highly skilled and competitive work force.
The President assured Brown, who now serves as the United Nations Special Envoy on Global Education, that in addition to providing the $250 million required to match the amount raised by international donors towards giving more Nigerian youths access to basic education, Federal Government would also provide all possible support to state governments to ensure they were able to access the new funds and put them to appropriate use.
Jonathan said: “Thank you for helping us in this area. Education is critical to making our youths more employable.
“The Coordinating Minister of the Economy/Finance and the Minister of Education will work with the states to make sure that the programme succeeds.”