Italian Education Minister Lorenzo Fioramonti of the anti-establishment Five Star Movement said Thursday he had resigned because his ministry is underfunded.
Fioramonti wrote on Facebook that he informed Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte of his decision on Tuesday, saying he had taken up the portfolio to “reverse… the trend that has for decades put Italian schools, higher education and research in conditions of great suffering.”
He said the government had failed “to ensure a financial waterline… especially in such a crucial area as universities and research.”
The resignation deals a new blow to the coalition government formed by Fioramonti’s M5S party and the centre-left Democratic Party just four months ago.
Dissensions have already arisen in several areas including migration.
M5S leader Luigi Di Maio, who is foreign minister, has come under harsh criticism within the party, with several lawmakers leaving to join the far-right, anti-immigrant League party led by Matteo Salvini.
Media reports say Fioramonti plans to form an independent group in parliament to support Conte that may be the embryo of a new political party.
Former US first lady Michelle Obama and Hollywood A-lister Julia Roberts toured a high school in rural Vietnam on Monday, urging a classroom of teenage girls to stay focused on their education to transform their lives.
The promotion of girls’ schooling has been the cornerstone of Obama’s charitable work since her husband Barack Obama left office in 2017 after two terms as US president.
“When you educate a girl you give them power and a voice and an opportunity to improve their lives and the lives of their family and the lives of their community,” Obama said at Can Giuoc high school in southern Long An province in the Mekong Delta.
Accompanied by Roberts and Jenna Bush Hager, daughter of former US president George W. Bush, Obama encouraged the girls to stay the course of schooling.
“I want you all to stay committed and focused, it will get tough at times — it already has for some of you — but it is well worth it,” she said, before the women sat and chatted with students.
“Even if your families don’t understand that today, trust me they will, when you go off to college or start your businesses,” she added.
With its booming youth population and fast-growing economy, Vietnam routinely outperforms its neighbours in education rankings, especially in math and sciences.
School enrolment rates are also high at 91.7 percent, but the quality of schooling often drops off in rural areas, and in the poorest pockets of the country economic pressures can force girls out of school early.
Student Truong Thi Hai Yen said Obama’s visit — and life story — was a major motivation.
“She kept trying every day to be better and now we can see that she is very successful,” the 16-year-old told AFP.
In her best-selling book “Becoming”, Harvard-educated Obama details how her own education and good teachers shaped her life and paved her path to becoming a successful lawyer, university administrator and advocate.
The Obamas have dedicated much of their time post-presidency to the non-profit Obama Foundation, which includes the Girls Opportunity Alliance initiative that Michelle promoted in Vietnam on Monday.
The former first lady announced last week a $500,000 donation to the Alliance’s work world-wide, money earned from merchandise sales related to her book.
She will travel next to Malaysia with Barack and Roberts to speak at an Obama Foundation Leaders event on Tuesday.
President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan has reiterated concerns about the number of out of school children in the country.
Addressing a delegation of Arewa Consultative Forum which paid him a visit on Wednesday, he lamented that it is not an enviable record that Nigeria has the world’s highest figure of out of school children.
“We are worried and concerned with educational deterioration in many parts of the country and especially the out of school children who numbered about 11 million, some will tell you 14 million,” he was quoted as saying in a statement by his media aide, Mohammed Isa.
“The true thing is that nobody knows the figure. The figure could be much more than that because we are poor with our statistics.
“Majority of these out-of-school children are in the northern part of Nigeria. And this is the highest in the world. It is not an enviable position.
“These out of school children are our responsibility. We owe them, because it is not a privilege, it is their right to be in school. We shouldn’t allow them to continue to stray in the street.
“Whether we call them almajiri or not, these are the leaders of tomorrow and there is going to be a widening gap if such people are left uneducated. They will also contribute security challenge to us if they have not already,” Lawan said.
He further stated that the Senate is not unmindful of the challenges that the country is currently facing, noting that the north particularly faces more security challenges than other parts of the country.
“Before, the north was safer than many parts of the country. Today the north is worse in terms of security. So we have to work hard with the executive arms of government to deal with the security challenges as much as we can,” he said.
Moving to other matters, the Senate President explained reasons for the plans by the upper legislative chamber to hold roundtable conferences on power, solid minerals and agriculture sub-sectors.
Lawan said the power sector has witnessed a lot of reforms the climax of which was the privatization of the Generation Companies (GENCOs) and Distribution Companies(DISCOs).
“But I think the time has come for us to review what the GENCOs and DISCOs have been able to do since those operators took over from the Federal government of Nigeria.
“Of course, everybody agrees that they have not done very well. We cannot continue to be lamenting and do nothing.
“So we think that we should hold a roundtable Conference and tell ourselves the truth. This thing is not working. We can’t go on like this.
“Without power, we can’t develop this country at all. The insecurity can be related to unemployment among our youths. With improved power supply, definitely there will be more employment opportunity for our youth.
“So we are going to hold that roundtable Conference and we believe that at the end of the day, we should come up with ways and means and ideas on how to move forward.
“This we are not going to do alone. We have to involve the executive arm of government and I’m happy that the President particularly is feeling the same way,” he said.
On Agriculture, the Senate President said there is need for the government to come up with a roadmap and strategy clearly defined targets between now and 2023.
The Senate President also said there is need for a clearly defined policy on solid minreals sub-sector.
“We have to have a policy of supporting truly committed companies which want to do mining.
We believe that if Nigeria relies on solid minerals alone, we can make this country better.
“So we are going to look into the solid minerals sub-sector and see how we can come with legislation that will support it, ” he said.
Earlier, the ACF chairman, Alhaji Musa Liman Kwande told the Senate President that the forum will appreciate it if the railway and road network projects are simultaneously pursued from the North and South to assuage the fears of projects being abandoned after this administration.
He also sought support for the ACF 20th anniversary coming up in March 2020.
A former Minister of Aviation, Mr Osita Chidoka, says the nation’s educational system is on the verge of a collapse.
According to him, Nigeria has not met the hopes and aspirations of the younger ones since its independence in 1960.
“Is this the Nigeria that was the hope and aspirations of 1960? If a child has great talents, will Nigeria make it possible for him to unfold those potentials? I doubt that very much,” he said during an interview on Channels Television’s Hard Copy.
“What is happening is that 60 years after independence, we cannot export groundnut out of Nigeria. 60 years out of our independence, our educational system is on the verge of collapse”.
When asked if the nation faces a bleak future when compared to its journey since independence, the former aviation minister believes Nigeria “was at its finest immediately after the civil war.”
“We took our deliberate decisions to build back a nation. That was a Nigeria that went ahead to say no victor no vanquish.
“That was the Nigeria that introduced the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) that took Nigeria from their various communities to where they have never been to,” he said.
Chidoka, however, said he believes that there is hope for Nigeria in the years ahead, especially with the right combination of technology innovation and talent on the part of the younger generation.
About thirty years ago, governments around the world adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child, however, the right to an education is being violated in communities hit by conflict in West and Central Africa.
According to a report by UNICEF on the region in focus, right now, nearly two million children are being robbed of education in the region due to violence and insecurity in and around their schools.
The report titled ‘Education Under Threat In Central and West Africa’, reveals that in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mali, Niger and Nigeria, a surge in threats and attacks against students, teachers and schools – on education itself – is casting a foreboding shadow upon children, their families, their communities and society at large.
Below are more key facts as stated in the report by UNICEF.
1. The number of schools forced to close due to rising insecurity in conflict-affected areas of West and Central Africa tripled between the end of 2017 and June 2019. As of June 2019, 9,272 schools were closed in the region, affecting more than 1.91 million children and nearly 44,000 teachers.
2. The increasing number of children forced out of school due to violence in West and Central Africa contributes to a total of 40.6 million primary and lower secondary school-aged children who are out of school in the region. About one in four children globally who need humanitarian support – including education and other services critical to learning – live in just 10 countries in West and Central Africa.
3. Nearly half of the schools closed across the region due to attacks, threats of attack and increasing violence are located in the northwest and southwest Cameroon; 4,437 schools there closed as of June 2019, pushing more than 609,000 children out of school.
4. More than 2,000 schools are closed in Burkina Faso, along with more than 900 in Mali, due to growing violence across both countries.
5. The number of schools closed due to violence in the four countries affected by crisis in the Lake Chad Basin – Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria – stayed at roughly the same high level, varying only from 981 to 1,054, between the end of 2017 and June 2019.
6. Between April 2017 and June 2019, the countries of the central Sahel – Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger – witnessed a six-fold increase in school closures due to violence, from 512 to 3,005.
Note: References to school closures include schools closed or non-operational. Sources of data: Ministries of Education, humanitarian partners and UNICEF.
More than ever, governments today must reaffirm their commitment to protecting education from attack and providing the resources needed to help their youngest citizens to keep learning.
Now is the time for renewed efforts to make sure the potential of a generation of young people is not wasted.
In a bid to stop attacks and threats against schools, students, teachers, and other school personnel in West and Central Africa – and to support quality learning for every child in the region, governments, armed forces, and other parties to conflict and the international community must take concerted action.
The President has highlighted the importance of health and education to the well-being of the people and the development of the nation.
He said his administration would maintain focus on them but would require the support of well-to-do individuals in Nigeria to achieve success in these areas.
President Muhammadu Buhari lauded the attainment of three years without a recorded polio incident in the country.
He noted that the feat was achieved by his administration with local and international support, saying it was something not only to cherish but one that also requires sustained vigilance.
“The best asset to give to the people is health and education,” the President was quoted as saying on Friday in a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mr Garba Shehu.
“You free them from the tendencies of under-development, especially religious and ethnic manipulations which are challenges facing us at this stage of our development,” said President Buhari who received former US Ambassador to the United Nations, Mr Andrew Young, and board members of Emeka Offor Foundation in Nigeria.
The President believes quality education is very important to the development of every nation, as it is the way people can be lifted out of poverty.
President Muhammadu Buhari stated this on Thursday while commissioning the Post Graduate Centre of Excellence built by the Central Bank of Nigeria at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, in Kaduna State.
“Let me reiterate here that this administration places much premium on education at all levels, as it is the bedrock of society’s progress, and the way to overcome poverty,” he was quoted as saying in a statement by his media adviser, Mr Femi Adesina.
The President was worried about the state of facilities in Nigerian universities, due to long years of perennial funding challenges.
He, however, promised that his administration would continue to place a premium on education at all levels.
According to President Buhari, the state of facilities in the universities and other institutions of higher learning has not kept pace with the requirements of the ever-growing population of students and other stakeholders, as well as with modern methods of learning.
He stressed that his administration was committed and determined to continue to fund vital institutions, even in the face of limited financial resources.
The President assured Nigerians that his administration would not rest until it delivers on its commitments on quality education, including investing more resources in the sector and providing a conducive learning environment in academia.
He also expressed confidence that efforts at improving access to quality education in tertiary institutions would enable young Nigerians to make meaningful contributions towards the nation’s development.
President Buhari said, “The wealth of nations today is being shaped by investment in education rather than emphasis on mineral resources.
“Investment in education is a critical factor in driving innovation, technological advancements and employment opportunities in advanced economies.”
The President disclosed that the Federal Government has invested close to N1.3 trillion towards the development of the education sector in the past four years, excluding funds spent on overhead and personnel costs.
Commending the CBN for providing the centre, sited at the Samaru campus of the institution, the he said, “By this exercise, we are building on the vision of the founder of this great institution, Late and great Sir Ahmadu Bello, the Sardauna of Sokoto, who, as Premier of Northern Nigeria, established this institution almost six decades ago.”
“It is on record that this University has made giant contributions towards the development of our nation and we remain grateful to the Founder of this vision,” President Buhari added.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has challenged the government at all levels to give maximum attention to education development in the country.
According to him, 50% of the jobs currently being done today would be irrelevant in the near future, so long term planning needs to be done in regards to changes in the education sector.
He made the call while addressing some youths and students from selected schools in Abeokuta, the state capital during a Youths Governance Dialogue mentorship programme organised by the Youth Development Centre, an arm of the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library.
The former president believes that the current situation in the education sector and the growing population could be an asset if adequately addressed but if not it could spell doom for the country.
He, however, said he was optimistic that despite the current challenges facing the country, greatness can be achieved if the youth play active roles.
He believes more attention should be paid to such courses in order to help in developing the minds and characters of young graduates.
“We need an orientation in education, the education that merely impacts skills and techniques into students and then they graduate with these techniques, it’s not sufficient.
“Today, the rush is for courses that have technical skills such as technology, medicine, law and journalism. But there are disciplines like philosophy, moral education that are made to train the human mind,” he said.
“There needs to be a reorientation…how many students study philosophy in this country.
“The University of Ibadan, which is the premiere university was established in 1948 and it did not start the teaching of philosophy until 1973.
“In most of the north until recently, there was no university in the northern part of this country had a philosophy department.
“This is the kind of thing I’m trying to say.
“Think about those disciplines that humanise and teach the individual the art of being human, it is important because no matter what skills you have, until you begin to behave like a human, you are not a human and so, society cannot survive without that aspect of education”.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila has urged governments at all levels to fashion out ways of transforming the Nigerian educational system to strengthen the capacity of the youth.
In a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Lanre Lasisi, in which he was commemorating the International Youth Day, the Speaker noted that the government has the primary responsibility of ensuring that every Nigerian is given access to basic and qualitative education.
According to him, the essence of education is to proffer solutions to challenges confronting humanity.
The Speaker further stated that democracy and good governance would thrive in an atmosphere where a sizeable proportion of the populace is educated and well enlightened about their civic responsibilities.
While assuring that the 9th House of Representatives under his leadership would prioritise issues concerning the education sector, Rt. Hon. Gbajabiamila emphasized that revamping the sector has become imperative.
The Speaker had in 2016 during his tenure as the House Majority Leader sponsored a bill to provide access to higher education for Nigerians through interest-free loans.
The Bill, which has been reintroduced in this Assembly and has gone through its first reading, proposes a Nigeria Education Bank, which will be established by law to provide education for all Nigerians without any discrimination.
He said: “As we celebrate the International Youth Day, I intend to use the office of the Speaker and the instrumentality of the law to fast-track the passage of this and others Bills that are capable of restoring hope to our youth to reposition them for the tasks of nation-building and global competitiveness.
“It is indisputable that the global economy is knowledge-driven, while the private sector has continued to play a leading and pivotal role in the economic development of states and nations.
“This is why we need to transform the Nigerian Educational System and why the youth should be encouraged to broaden their skills,” the Speaker said. Rt. Hon. Gbajabiamila added, “I wish all Nigerian youths a happy International Youth Day”.