By; IMRANA ABDULLAHI, Kaduna
The Minister of Education, Prof. Tahir Mamman has said that the Federal Government is committed to the ideals, policies and programmes of UNESCO to achieve SDGs and other Global Development Agenda.
Mamman spoke at the 42nd Session of the UNESCO General Conference in Paris, France.
This was contained in a statement issued yesterday in Abuja by Dr Armaya’u Yabo, Special Assistant to the Director and Chief Executive of the National Teachers’ Institute (NTI), Kaduna, Prof. Musa Garba-Maitafsir.
Mamman said, ”We remain committed to hosting a UNESCO Category 2 International Institute for Media and Information Literacy and will work with UNESCO to make this a reality.
”Other activities in the sector include and not limited to the implementation of the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy, building national capacity for emerging technologies by establishing a National Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics and developing a National Policy on Artificial Intelligence and its ethical use, as well as its integration into the educational curricula.
” Excellencies, in conclusion, Nigeria appreciates the successful outcomes of the Nigeria-UNESCO cooperation over the years. However, the recent development in the Abuja office, especially, the location of its Communication and Information sector to the Multi-sectoral Regional Office in Dakar is a concern.
”While the Abuja component is functional, the Dakar component is not, and no budgetary appropriation as yet to Abuja. We therefore strongly appeal that UNESCO relocates all the sectors to the Abuja Office. Although we reason with the exigency of a reform, the Abuja Office should function in full capacity in all UNESCO’s areas of competence.”
According to the minister, the global community is still dealing with the fall-out of the COVID-19 pandemic, accentuated by other global challenges such as economic crisis, increased conflicts, climate change, disaster risks and deprivation of rights to education.
Mamman said, ”In spite of these, UNESCO has continued to be relevant in proffering solutions where its mandates apply. Nigeria believes in the value UNESCO adds to our collective and individual national efforts in education, the sciences, culture, communication and information.
”We shall continue to expand the frontiers of this partnership and remain resolute in the commitment to uphold UNESCO’s mandates as follows:1. In Education, we note the increased availability of resources to the African region and decentralization as it affects the sector.
”We are pleased with the Director-General’s pragmatic proposals of the Case BASE budget scenario within the Integrated Budget Framework.Nigeria is consolidating the Safe Schools Initiative as well as reviewing progress in our commitments to the declaration.
” National Commitments made during the Transforming Education Summit are driving our domestic action and we will continue to monitor progress of Education 2030 as we look forward to the “Summit of the Future” in September 2024.
” Therefore, the government is sustaining the National Home Grown School Feeding Programme; the Better Education Service Delivery for All (BESDA) and a number of other programmes that target Out-of-School Children, especially the establishment of a National Commission for Almajiri and Out of School Children Education.”
The minister said that, “to increase the employability of our youths, Nigeria has developed critical innovations such as Open, Distance and Flexible E-learning systems, STEM Education, Inclusive Education for the challenged, the Nigeria Skills Qualification Framework (NSQF) and a Tertiary Education, Research, Applications and Services (TERAS) platform.
”Let me also inform you that Nigeria is “greening” her curriculum with climate change and environmental education contents at basic and senior education levels to enhance understanding of environmental justice, stewardship and global citizenship.
” With the establishment of the new Federal Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy, a national capacity programme for ocean literacy is being initiated in collaboration with the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC).
”Nigeria has initiated capacity development opportunities for teachers and school leaders in the use of technology, to build resilience in learners against disruptions, enhance teachers’ career growth to contribute to the statistical framework of the 2021 International Standard Classification of Teacher training programmes (ISCED-T). 2.
”In the Natural Sciences, Nigeria again appreciates UNESCO’s partnership in establishing an Ecohydrology demonstration site at the Jabi Lake in Abuja and count on our continued cooperation for the full realization of the project.
”We organized two Regional meetings with the 15 West African countries; two National Stakeholders’ Workshops on Ecohydrology; and a sub-regional training workshop for Cape Verde, Guinea Bissau and Sao Tome and Principe. We count on UNESCO’s support for on-going projects.3,” the minister added.
According to the minister, In Social and Human Sciences, the government’s policies and programmes to overcome poverty and illiteracy are mostly targeted at improving the living conditions of the poor, the vulnerable and the marginalized.
Mamman said that the government’s 8-point agenda provides a critical transformational framework of national development priority for attaining the SDGs, adding, ”we note the opportunities in the Draft Programme and Budget for 2024-2025 and crucial cross-cutting themes for the effective delivery of UNESCO’s priorities.
”Therefore, in consonance with SHS strategic focus, Nigeria is effectively tackling exclusion, youth restiveness, violent extremism, terrorism, climate change, as well as creating social protection mechanisms against the excesses of emerging technologies, through the adoption of ethics and ethical instruments for regulating Digital Technologies, biotechnology, artificial intelligence and the establishment of a National Bioethics Committee, among others.4.
”On culture, Nigeria’s Cultural Policy is being reviewed for actions that align with the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. To reflect our support for Creative Cities mechanisms, viable cities are being nominated into the Network.
”The new Federal Ministry of Arts, Culture and Creative Economy will significantly promote culture as an economic value in response to global challenges targeting the Agenda 2030.5.”
The minister said in the Communication and Information Sector, critical issues including engaging the social media platforms for a common code of conduct to reduce fake news and hate speech are being addressed.
He said, ‘Nigeria is pleased to have hosted the 2022 UNESCO Media and Information Literacy Week, which produced the “Abuja Declaration on Global Financing for Media and Information Literacy.”
Also speaking, Garba-Maitafsir, who traveled to Paris alongside Yabo, ensured that the institute’s needs in the focus areas were clearly defined and reflected during the conference.
The director also pressed to obtain the benefits in terms of attracting UNESCO’s project to the Institute and Nigerian teachers in general.
Yabo said,”Consequently, Garba-Maitafsir secured a training collaboration with UNESCO to organise a capacity building workshop for 250 teachers from Cross River, Imo, Kaduna, Lagos and Taraba on Family Life and HIV Education (FLHE).
”This is to strengthen the capacity of in-service teachers and FLHE desk officers to drive Family Life and HIV Education that responds to specific needs of adolescent and young people.
”This includes those living with disabilities and those in humanitarian settings, which will commence by the end of November or early December, 2023.”
Yabo quoted Garba-Maitfasir as reiterating commitment to continue partnering with international development partners in the training of teachers and ultimate transformation of NTI as an international distance learning institute.
It would be recalled that NTI has a long history of series of collaboration with UNESCO in the area of advancing teacher training and distance education in Nigeria.
In this regard, thousands of teachers were trained on the use of mobile technology in teaching and learning through a programme called, ‘Mobile Learning Programme’.