By Busayo Adeojo (Lagos)
The Legal Practitioner and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana has warned that country with 12.3M children not attending school cannot compete with rest of world.
He emphasized that Nigeria’s future remains bleak and uncompetitive unless the government revives public education offering equal opportunities to children of all backgrounds.
The prominent Civil Right lawyer spoke at a presentation of a new book by author-journalist Grace Edema in lagos today.
“With 12.3 million out-of-school children roaming the streets and on the verge of being recruited into violent crimes and terrorism, Nigeria cannot claim lay claim to a brighter future,” said activist Femi Falana.
“While we were growing up, it was a shame to attend private schools,” he recounted in Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial capital.
“The public schools developed all our intellectuals today, but today those public schools have been left to collapse. We can’t compete this way. This society has abandoned the children of the poor, and they will make it difficult for children of the rich to sleep.”
The lawyer said European, Asian, and American countries have long prioritized public education, which has seen them transform their economies, citing how Cuba eradicated illiteracy in 1961.
“In those countries, the counterparts of our own 12.3 million out-of-school children are already skilled in information communication technology,” he said.
“Front-line states in the world depend on knowledge, not oil. Only a knowledge-based economy can advance us.”
Ayo Olukotun, a professor and newspaper columnist, said the book, Tolu’s October 1st Birthday, urges teaching young children about local cultures, including local languages.
“Research has shown that [school] children who understand their mother tongue tend to do better in their academics,” he said.
“This is exactly what this author is encouraging — apart from also calling for better reading culture.”
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The event was attended by prominent academics, school owners, journalists, and government officials.