• Lauds Enugu’s smart schools, 33% funding for education

From Jude Chinedu, Enugu

Heads of delegations and chairs of committees, including accredited ambassadors of the International Human Rights Commission (IHRC) Relief Fund in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations (ECOSOC), have called on governments, at all levels, around the world to take the lead in education.

They made the call during a maiden edition of the NgEducators and International Human Rights Commission Model United Nations (NgIMUN) conference 2024 in Enugu, at the weekend.

They stressed the need to overcome urban-rural education gap and also improve access to quality education for rural populations through increased investment in and the full use of modern technologies, including the establishment of remote education systems and training.

“Education and training should contribute to sustained, inclusive and equitable economic growth by developing requisite skills, in line with labour market requirements and development needs of countries,” they said.

Their position was contained in the “Enugu Declaration 2024” rendered by NgIMUN President and Director General Global, International Human Rights Commission, Relief Fund Trust, Tivlumun Ahure, at the end of the conference, themed: ‘The development of Education in Developing Countries’.

“We emphasise the need to promote and improve the relevance of teaching and learning, including: aligning education policies, curricula, training, and teaching and learning approaches with the priorities identified in national development strategies.

“Ensuring that educational curricula, methodologies, and training yield high-levels of literacy, numeracy, and life skills.

“Enhancing teachers’ training and their continued professional development to improve their pedagogical capacity to conduct student-centred lessons as well as promote creative and critical thinking.

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“Encouraging support for the development of the potential and talents of children and young people, the provision of and mainstreaming of skills development and training in technical, technological, and vocational schools, taking into account national and local needs and in cooperation with relevant economic actors,” the Enugu declaration read.

They affirmed the importance of investment in early childhood care and education, recognising its potential to bolster learning outcomes in later years, as well as its particularly strong effects on reducing economic, social, gender, and learning disparities.

Meanwhile, the Heads of Delegations, Chairs of Committees, and participants at NgIMUN 2024, have lauded the smart schools initiative of the Governor Peter Mbah administration in Enugu State and the allocation of 33 per cent of the state’s 2024 budget to education.

The Smart Green School comprises interactive digital whiteboard, internet system, robotics and artificial intelligence laboratories, modern ICT centre, two science laboratories for primary and junior secondary classes, hybrid multimedia library, creative production studio, and 25 inclusive classrooms, among others.

Speaking when the Commissioner for Education, Enugu State, Ndubueze Mbah, took them on a tour of Enugu Smart Green School, Owo, one of the 260 being constructed by the administration, leader of the delegation, Ahure said: “From reading about it, I saw a marvellous concept, but coming to see it, I see a true educational revolution, first of its kind in Africa.

“It is actually my job to ensure this kind of thing is replicated somewhere else and in all the places in Africa. I take the trumpet away from Enugu here and blow it elsewhere in Nigeria first, where we will start to talk to Abuja from our experiences here.

“Everyone should be proud of what is happening in Enugu State. There is a man here, who is doing more than UNESCO prescription for the use of  budget in the education sector. Is not that out of this world?” he said.

On his part, Country Director for Congo Brazzaville, Valentine Meri, said: “From what we have seen here, we noticed that Nigeria is actually a leader in the domain of education. We intend to reproduce or to copy what we have seen here in our various countries,” he said.

Speaking, Head of Education at the Secretariat of Nigerian Governors’ Forum, Leo Ebenezer, commended Enugu’s pace-setting role in education funding and quality.

“The advocacy at the Governors’ Forum is that every state should allocate about 15 to 20 per cent of their budget to education. Enugu has surpassed that. And with the smart schools, Enugu has done an excellent job to tell the other states that this is what we need in the country. It is not just talking about out-of-school, it is talking about quality,” he said.

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