Atiku Abubakar, the former vice-president, says parents should be forced to send their children to school.
Delivering a convocation lecture on Friday at the Achievers University, Owo, Ondo state, Atiku said countries that invest in education and innovation are leading nations of the world.
He said if education is made more accessible to young people in Nigeria, the country will progress and that it will also solve some of the challenges facing the country.
“Education enlightens us and opens our eyes to better understand our environment and the world around us; it helps us increase our incomes; it helps us to understand the challenges facing our communities, our country, and the world, and how we can apply ourselves to solving even a tiny part of those challenges,” he said.
Education is a social good. Countries that value education and make the necessary investments in it also tend to have more control over their affairs.
“And there is more. Educating girls and women is even more impactful. Research spanning over three decades shows that for a society to make progress, it is even more important to educate women and girls because of the positive impact it has on the development of children and their health and those of the family.
So why does it seem like the importance of education for a society such as ours is so difficult for some to understand? Why do we seem reluctant to the idea of providing good quality basic education for all our people? Why can’t we see that the neglect of education for our people has huge long-term consequences which have become obvious already as our country is engulfed in security challenges across its length and breadth?
We persuade parents to vaccinate their children against infectious diseases because vaccination is a good thing. Why don’t we do the same for education? Parents should be persuaded, even forced, to send their children to school so they, at least, acquire basic education. That basic education should be free and compulsory.”
He said if there are severe consequences for parents who refuse to send their children to school, the number of out-of-school children will reduce and that the country’s per capita income “would not have stagnated for 40 years”.