Hajiya Dukku stated these in Owerri, Imo State while speaking at an international conference organised by the Centre for Women and Gender Studies of the Evan Enwerem University (formerly Imo State University).
She explained that eight sector wide goals had been developed in the education sector with which it has pursued attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) and Education For All (EFA), pointing out that the Ministry of Education had remained steadfast in its resolve to improve efficiency of basic education, with higher completion rates and increase enrolment in primary and junior schools.
The Minister described education as an instrument of development of any nation, an antidote to poverty and key for unlocking national resources as well as opens door for citizens to participate in development, adding that achievement of other Millennium Development Goals depends on its success in the education sector
She noted with satisfaction the achievement so far in overcoming the problems of out of school children, disparities in access between genders across regions and social groups, teachers’ quality, inadequate infrastructure and materials as well as poor students learning environment. She also pointed out that prior to the MDG intervention, about 10.5 primary school age pupils and 6 million of Junior Secondary age were out of school for various reasons, adding that 15 â€“ 25% reduction has been achieved from that staggering number.
Hajiya Dukku announced that the Federal Government in collaboration with international partners have recorded a major feat in the area of twin problem of girls school drop out in Northern Nigeria and the boys drop out in the South, saying that campaign was being scaled-up to encourage enrolment and retention of boys and girls in school.
She explained low school enrolment in the North noting that simple thing like absence of female toilets in schools could bar a Fulani girl for coming to school because of the fear of her safety. stressing that provision of the toilets, school fencing and establishment of all female schools is begining to restore the confidence of many Northern parents in the safety of the school environment hence the improved school enrolment and retention.
Earlier in a welcome address, the Acting Vice Chancellor of the University, Prof. Anthony Okere commended the Minister for the visit, saying that it was the first time Minister of Education attended an Independent programme of the University since its inception and urged her to keep the relationship.
Chairman of the Conference Prof. Ben Okorie of Enugu State University of Technology (ESUT) described MDG programme as having special appeal to women. He called for synergy and interplay between the various special policies of Government in order to yield positive results.
The Director, Centre for Women and Gender Studies and a former Minister of State for Education, Prof. (Mrs) Rose Achunine in her speech said the Centre through many seminars, conferences and publications had been able to contribute to the sensitization and awareness efforts on women empowerment and gender equality. According to her, the Centre runs a Masters Degree programme in Women and Gender Studies to further empower beneficiaries with knowledge and skills in gender issues in development process.
She called on the Minister of State for Education to facilitate linkage between the Centre and donor Agencies to develop programmes of national interest.