29 Oct What is the cure for poverty?
What is the cure for poverty in Nigeria? In my opinion, the answer is education.
This year, 2015, Nigeria failed to meet any of the global education goals contained in the Education For All (EFA) Global Monitoring Report (GMR) published by UNESCO. This included a failure to achieve universal primary education, especially for girls. Fewer than 80% of primary school aged children enrolled at any primary school across the country. Since 2004/2005 the out-of-school population has grown by 3.4 million, coupled with an unimpressive 71% increase of adult illiterates, it is clear that the wealth of our growing country is definitely not being invested in educating the people. 51% of Nigerian adults are illiterate, and so, 51% of Nigerians have to accept a life of disadvantage and poverty.
Education is a fundamental tool to the sustainable development of ones’ self and their environment, and this starts at school. We are taught communication skills, self-empowerment skills and social skills which are essential to becoming a fully fledged member of society.
There are 521 different languages spoken across Nigeria, with the exception of Pidgin English (the unofficial first language), communication skills are necessary to pass along information to another person regardless of what language they speak or their traditions. These skills are required in order to relate to another persons’ culture and assess your surroundings to avoid offending others. This can be applied to business skills and social skills which in turn, alongside academic qualifications, can bring about financial stability which removes you from the poverty bracket.
Education changes how you think, it adds an extra dimension to you formed of self-confidence, personality and attitude. It liberates you and allows you to make decisions for yourself by yourself, and gives you the courage to fight the “man”. In the last two years the political leaders have claimed to have lost $21million in education funding, which begs the question, are they “losing” the funds on purpose? By educating the people of Nigeria, more and more are likely to stand up against the economic and social injustice in the country, this, of course, will only be problematic to our fraudulent and corrupt leaders.
Nigeria did not reach Goal 5 – Achieve gender parity and equality. Early pregnancy, child marriage and boy-child dropouts are huge issues that hinder progress in education. In Northern Nigeria, the fear ensued by Boko Haram has had devasting effects on the education system in these parts, as both students and teachers fear the consequences of being in school.
43% of girls are married off before their 18th birthday, 17% are married before they turn 15. Education is a strong indicator of whether a girl will marry as a child; if her parents are educated, she is unlikely to be married off as a child. An educated person regardless of religion tradition or culture is aware of the negative impact of child marriage. Educated people in power will also understand why there is a need to establish a minimum age of marriage in the Nigerian constitution to begin the journey to eradicate child marriage.
What about those that are educated, unemployed and living in poverty?
Poverty is a vicious cycle that can pass through several generations, trapping individuals, communities and even a whole nation. The answer does not singularly lie in education, other factors must be taken into account, for example, the lack of a good government and poor infrastructure. Nonetheless, education creates more job efficiency and better opportunities for yourself to become a complete member of society.
I believe education is the best way to build a community, and that it is the only way out of poverty. The government must provide a system that ensures every child, irrespective of circumstance must at least be able to read and write. With a better education system, Nigeria can win the battle against poverty.
What do you think?