Federal Government and World Bank teams on Adolescent Girls Initiative for Learning and Empowerment (AGILE) have applauded Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq for his administration’s reforms and commitments in improving learning outcomes for children in the state.
AGILE is a World Bank-assisted Project of the Federal Government. Kwara has qualified to be enrolled into the programme that seeks better girl child education, especially in senior secondary school.
“Your Excellency, we know the story of Kwara State. We have seen the performance of Kwara State in education quality assurance. You have been a pace setter. Also, in the monitoring of learning achievements of performance of learners when it comes to basic education and post basic education, you are doing so well,” National Project Coordinator of AGILE project in the Federal Ministry of Education Hajia Aminah Haruna said during a visit to Government House Ilorin on Tuesday.
“We have gone round and we have seen some schools and the possibility of intervening. We have seen commitments. We know you are coming from a long journey. But you have shown signs of strong commitments. We really appreciate that.
World Bank’s Senior Education Specialist in Nigeria Tunde Adekola, for his part, said the team was in Kwara for its appraisal mission as the state is eligible for the AGILE project among the 11 additional states.
“Our coming here is to tell you that Kwara State is now eligible for the AGILE project. We are happy about this, and we call it an appraisal mission. It is after appraisal mission that we will do negotiations. This is very important to us because we have the original AGILE project in seven states and out of the 11 states that we are extending the project to, it is only six states that are ready now and Kwara is one of them,” he said, adding that the administration has really done well for the education sector.
“We hope that by September, this project should be able to take off and start implementation in terms of resources we are bringing to the state because you have contributed N150m to support the project.
“Part of the resources is to do construction and rehabilitation of classrooms, issue of digital literacy, girls empowerment among others.
“You are doing well in terms of basic education with construction. We have been to some schools, and we have seen a lot of efforts by the state government. More still need to done. That is why we are here. We appreciate you and your efforts and, more importantly, the support you have given to AGILE project.”
Adekola explained that the intervention of the AbdulRazaq’s administration in the education sector has created a platform for the smooth take off of AGILE project in the state.
“You have really demonstrated that if there is commitment from government and there is interest to deliver for our people, it is not going to be difficult.
Kwara State Project Coordinator Adesina Salami noted that the Governor’s enthusiasm and love for education in Kwara State made it possible for the state to fulfill all the conditions set by the World Bank for the AGILE project.
“(His Excellency’s) love for female folk and education development of the state has made it possible to key into the adolescent girls’ initiative for learning and empowerment. By this, the females who are out of schools for one reason or the other (economic or social stigmatisation) will be brought back to schools, retain and make to transcend beyond secondary education under the project,” he said.
Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, for his part, said the administration has addressed many of the challenges facing the sector, including non-payment of salary and general infrastructural decay, but added that a lot still needs to be done.
“The challenges are huge. But we have addressed some of them. For the neglect of many years, it will take us time to cover some of these schools. And we are not doing concentric development by staying only in the state capital. We spread what we do across all the local government areas. The digital literacy centres, too, are spread across the state,” he said.
“We have engaged New Globe to bring technology into our classrooms. With that, every teacher must know how to use a tablet…. That has helped us in issues of enumeration, curriculum, and check students’ absenteeism. KwaraLEARN programme is very effective.”
AbdulRazaq promised improved budgetary provisions to support the education sector to address schools’ infrastructural deficits and improve teaching and learning across the state.
“For us, there are huge challenges and gaps. We will increase our budget in education and refocus more on the sector. I was in the School for Special Needs a few weeks ago, and we have sent a contractor in order to fix it. We will up our games in several areas. That is why we are happy with the aids we are getting in the AGILE project to see how we can expand what we are doing. Girl-child issue is very important and the issue of out of school children. Kwara is a pioneer state on the issue of SDG 5. We have passed a law that guarantees 35% political appointment for women,” he added.
“When we came in in 2019, there was no single female legislator in the house of assembly. Today, we have five female lawmakers and the youngest female lawmaker in Nigeria today is from Kwara. It is a big challenge, but it is a gradual process. That is what AGILE project is all about: it is to make sure we attain SDG 5.”