UNESCO: Unfounded figure of Nigerian Children out of School

Sometimes, as it is now, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and
Cultural Organization, UNESCO can embarrass a nation it is serving with
educational information when it goes out to do or permute funny numbers to
make a case. Recently, an astonishing revelation was seemingly made by Kate
Redman, the Communications Specialist, Education for All Global Monitoring
Report, EAGMR, of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural
Organization, UNESCO. This officer stated that Nigeria has the highest
number of out of school children in the world. And this may have remained
unchallenged in a way it is necessary to adjust the statistics of the
country’s children‘s school going population minus the non-going. It is
important to make known that the UNESCO and its informants claimed that Ten
Million Nigerian children are out from school. This writer is, however,
wondering how the organization came to this number on its records. By
saying that Nigeria is showing 10 million children who are out of school
programmes, the organization is suggesting that the children recorded at 10
million do not attend school. It further asserts that Nigeria leads 12
other countries in the ring of lowering the future of its children along
the axis of Pakistan to Yemen and Niger.

To many local and international observers, the finding as reported was ‘a
true expose of the rot in the governance in Nigeria’. Many had believed
UNESCO in its entirety regarding the cited number at 10 million to be true
and fair. But Yours Truly contends that this declaration by UNESCO had
barely gone unchallenged before to the extent citizens can make sense of.
Although, there are a lot of education professionals throwing their weight
behind the body that lets this type of phony figures to stand. With some
exceptions, Nigeria has the likes of the National Coordinator, Education
Rights Campaign, ERC; Mr. Hassan Soweto had earlier described the
statistics as an understatement, adding that the number was much more than
the data presented by UNESCO.

This journalist’s crosschecking of the culture of Nigerian facts
significantly point to show that the description offered by UNESCO is
untrue. This is owing to the fact that UNESCO didn’t delineate the tactics
it used to arrive at the number. Not until a clear explanation of how the
number quoted is arrived at, it leaves many and the reporter in doubt with
regard to the accuracy and authenticity of the number of Nigerian children
who are out of school currently.

Again, because Nigeria doesn’t know her population rate, so how the UNESCO
arrived at its report that 10 million Nigerian children are out from school
is doubtful. According to media reports, the Director of Whitefield High
School, Mr. Luke Onyeanula who runs a flourishing private school in Lagos,
had queried the statistics. He emphasized that the dawn of private schools
has been an enhancement to the education sector this trend must be factored

Onyeanula therefore disagreed with the statistics. He made the point that
around the communities there are schools whose school-fees are very cheap
that parents and guardians can afford. He then asked: “So, how does the
UNESCO’s report reflect the reality in the education sector, when the
private sector is establishing schools in every nook and cranny of the

It was experimental that the government had not given proper attention to
basic education in the country. As such room is given to such UNESCO’s
ruinous report. Another educationist and a retired Principal of Federal
Government College, Gwandu, Dr. Sylvanus Okoto, flared-up at the Federal
Government for accepting the UNESCO’s report with what he had said was,
“with an ‘unrealistic’ pledge to tackle the issue.”

Something refreshing has been emerging since the UNESCO made that claim,
with educational pundits not agreeing with it for being false. It was the
opinion of connoisseurs that UNESCO imposed the figure on Nigeria, perhaps,
owing to the fact that the country still operates an incorrect census. The
consequences of British colonial legacy of irreconcilable census measures
for Nigeria have continued to compound and allow the con-population

Mr. G.E Oti, a public affairs analyst who gave his words during the
collation of data for this report, said that Nigeria was at the base of its
own confusion and manipulation in the course for others to define her. Thus
institutional strangers like the UNESCO had a cause to fill up the gap. To
Mr. Oti, the figure was not correct. According to him, unless there is
deployment of a trusted sociometric process, only a theoretical figure
would suffice.

Oti believed that the census figures of Nigeria are politicized, which have
made the stranger’s data thrown at Nigeria to become a suitable point of
reference. It is evident that ‘UNESCO gets Nigerian education wrong’ as
also one James Stanfield, a data analyst, highlighted that there are many
unregistered “low cost private schools that exist across Nigeria”, which
Onyeanula had earlier on pinpointed. In such schools, many millions of
Nigerian children that attend such schools matter and must be accounted for
in any sense of reaching a meaningful population of school going and
non-going population categories.

It was superficial on the part of UNESCO to feel it was seeing Nigeria than
Nigeria sees herself. The UNESCO’s claim, however, has been alleged as a
method with which certain persons or groups have found out an optimum to
govern the affairs of Nigeria from afar. Stanfield had said: “But why is
this unfortunate? First, the state of the world is better than someone says
it is which is good to know. Second, a bunch of people with the desire to
govern, in practice to derange, the entire world is ignorant of what is
really going on in it.

“To me, that also sounds rather good. Accurate statistics are the lifeblood
of governmental projections for planning and action. Without education
crisis in Nigeria as it is being shown in this claim, it appears that
UNESCO would quickly become redundant. Second, by widely exaggerating the
number of out of school children, this also allows UNESCO to point the
finger at Western donors for failing to meet their funding commitments.”
Like in all cases, any claim will be supported with reasons like UNESCO has
been doing here.

A clear indication has also shown that the UNESCO cooked up the figures and
dished it out for Nigeria to probably embezzle funds, because it believed
that the amount of aid to basic education that Nigeria receives in the
country was declining. Evident was that the body had said that the
education aid that Nigeria received in 2011 was 28 per cent lower than she
received in 2010. As if the wrong statistics on Nigeria was not enough, the
UNESCO added that 57 million children were out of school globally in 2011.
But in 2010 it plummeted two million downward.

Nonetheless, there is no gainsaying that there has been a lacuna given
different governments at different levels in Nigeria to improve upon
qualitative education. But again, the figure by the UNESCO does not add up.
It was a mere permutation. Even where there is resistance to western
education in the northern part of the country, the children of school age
in that region are not out of school, because they still attend Arabic
schools, except that the UNESCO was seeing education to mean Western form
of education.

Having this as the view of the body, then the organization got it wrong. It
got it wrong because education tran

scends the four walls of school,
authorities would say. Education is an awakener. School only teaches. The
power of education can make one do what a schooled person cannot. Robert
Frost, a renowned poet, who was born in 1874 and lived until 1963, said:
“Education is the ability to listen to almost anything without losing your
temper or your self-confidence.” Education does not indoctrinate, but what
many people erroneously refer to as education is schooling. Education
emancipates and empowers with true programs and figures – as noted by
Iroegbu in 2000.

Since 1999, many Nigerians have been skeptical why the number of out of
school Nigerian children has been rising and falling in the statistics of
Westerners and their organizations. There was a suspicion by stakeholders
that there had been a rising number of “charities” meant for aiding
education in Nigeria as well as even prolong the problem they were
apparently there to harness. One Paul Marks believed in UNESCO thus,
“statists do not fundamentally change” and questions the grounds of
compounding figures that upset critical observers.

He further noted, “They say that people are stupid and need to be
controlled (hence books such as “Nudge” and “Thinking: Fast and Stupid”)
and so they do everything they can to MAKE PEOPLE THAT WAY. Otherwise the
collectivists would have no excuse for their power and, from their own
point of view, no reason to live. Fear that large numbers of people would
not be able to read and write is not the reason they support state
education – on the contrary teaching basic skills is not a high priority (I
went to a state school – I know).

“As long as most people learn the basic knowledge of doing things to get by
(whether they are in state schools or private schools) they are happy. And
the basic lesson is that the collective (i.e. the “enlightened” category of
the population or elite) is in charge – or should be in charge. That was
the basic principle for Plato – and it is the basic principle for Polly T.
at the Guardian (it does not fundamentally change).

“At the start of the 20th Century virtually everyone in Iceland could read
and write (often in more than one language). One wonders if that stopped by
any means the creation of a state education system. Of course it did not –
because creating a state education system was not really about teaching
people to read and write. It was about controlling their minds and actions
– and it WORKS…”

Analysts, conversely, had advised that the UNESCO’s reports are
unessential. But, rather, Nigeria should evaluate her education policies as
was initiated in 1954 by the then colonial government of Sir John
Macpherson. To edge such UNESCO’s report out, experts had advised that more
budget should be meant for education in Nigeria and that acts must be fully
implemented. This includes the fact that facilities to accommodate students
should be expanded and basic education should be seen as a priority and
renewed when it is due to make people become more competitive in the modern

Written by
Odimegwu Onwumere
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