Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar says education is significant to the development and security of any country.
As a result, he believes there is a need to force parents to ensure their children are educated, even at the basic level to have a peaceful society.
The former vice president made the remarks on Friday while delivering the convocation lecture titled ‘Diversity, Education and Autonomy: Developing Nigeria in the Years Ahead’ at Achievers University, Owo in Ondo State.
“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?” he queried. “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.
“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?”
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According to Atiku, a former presidential candidate, severe consequences for parents who refuse to send their children to have free primary and secondary education will prevent a situation where Nigeria has millions of out-of-school children.
Beyond basic education, he stressed the need for a variety of options for post-secondary education – university, polytechnic, colleges of education, vocational training – for those who would rather acquire vocational and technical skills for particular trades.
The former president, however, advised that while people prioritise education, they should also make full use of the nation’s diversity for the development of Nigeria.
“In addition to ethnic, religious, and regional diversity, we also have diverse endowments – agriculture, crude oil, solid minerals, tropical rain forests, Savanah grasslands; lakes, rivers, and streams that dot and snake around the country,” he stated.
“As different parts of the country are at different levels of development, local priorities would differ. Earning capacities differ. Therefore, we need to tailor our development policies and practices to acknowledge this diversity and benefit from it.”