Unless Nigeria’s budget is increased from the current 7% to 20% with clear delivery responsibilities, the country is unlikely to meet the global agenda for universally inclusive and equitable primary education for all school-aged children by 2030.
The United Nations (UN) issued the warning after the official launch of the Reports of Independent Evaluation of Sustainable Development Goals-3 (SDG-4) and SDG-4 by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on Thursday.
Speaking at the event in the presidential villa, Abuja, Mathias Schmale, the UN resident and humanitarian coordinator in Nigeria, noted that Nigeria is the first country to conduct and deliver independent comprehensive assessments of SDG-3 and SDG-4. .
He noted that the reports indicate how quickly the government has established robust institutional monitoring and support frameworks at the national and sub-national levels to support the effective implementation of the SDGs across the country.
The UN representative stated: “While the findings of these assessments show some improvement in health and education outcomes in Nigeria, the reports also contain some worrying analyses.
“For example, regarding SDG-4 on quality education, it is worrying that Nigeria is unlikely to meet the global agenda for universally inclusive and equitable primary education for all school-age children by 2030 if current, very low investment in the education sector remains the same.
“The evaluation indicates that the right policies (especially on free primary education and gender) are in place, but improving the quality and access to education is crucial.
“In the 2022 budget there was an increase to 7% for education, but the evaluation says this should be increased to 20% with clear responsibilities in delivery.
“Government funding for health care is also insufficient to achieve SDG-3 goals related to good health and well-being.
“It’s good to see that the recommendation to revive primary health care has already started and its effectiveness will be enhanced with a clear plan and accountability for human resources and funding at the state level.
“Business as usual is not enough. In support of the government, we are eager to identify truly transformative initiatives that will catalyze tangible change in the lives and livelihoods of the Nigerian people. This new data will help determine which health and education programs are really setting the needle in motion. We can then extend, renew and replicate them.
“We must jointly make progress on specific transformation initiatives in the education and health sector, such as prioritizing and revitalizing primary health care and improving the quality of teachers and learning in and outside the classroom.”
While praising the efforts of Princess Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire, the president’s senior special assistant on SDGs, Schmale noted that the two reports highlight the importance of significantly increasing government spending on both health and education services.
He added: “This cannot happen without finding ways to promote sustainable economic growth, increase domestic resource mobilization and make some tough choices about public spending.
“It is clear that achieving SDGs 3 and 4 does not stand alone. Significant progress needs to be made on other SDGs, such as SDG on poverty reduction, SDG-8 on decent work and economic growth and SDG-10 on reducing inequality.
“The recommendations in the two reports will be invaluable as we seek to get back on track and accelerate our path towards achieving the 2030 Agenda and its SDGs.
“It takes a whole government and a whole society approach to make the needle to better development results. And the accountability mechanisms between the federal and state levels need to be further strengthened.
“We at the UN would like to support the government in leaving a legacy associated with better healthcare and learning for all, especially the most vulnerable in society.”
In his keynote address, Vice President Osinbajo affirmed that it is critical to build the commitment and impetus needed to prioritize and increase primary education funding to 12% at all levels.
He said: “The timing of the use of allocated funds is also important. The state government should take advantage of the UBEC matching grants by making the required contributions.
“Education stakeholders are encouraged to develop and strengthen coordination mechanisms that can help strengthen information-sharing cooperation between federal and state actors and non-state actors.”
The Vice President noted that with the adoption of the Agenda and the SDGs, Nigeria has set a vision for itself to end extreme poverty by 2030 and protect our planet.
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According to him, achieving inclusive sustainable development is an objective that closely matches the current government’s wish to lift 100 million people out of poverty in 10 years.
He explains that the federal government has therefore set up a number of programs to support the acceleration of the achievement of the SDGs.
Commenting on the report’s findings, Osinbajo said: “The findings in these strategic assessments reinforce the evidence for improving health and education outcomes in Nigeria, highlighting how all stakeholders, governments, development partners and civil society can best address systemic gaps and challenges. tackle..
“So today’s official launch carries with it a responsibility for us to intentionally use the key findings of the two assessments to strengthen policies that support the achievement of the SDGs.”
He said that while the reports acknowledge that many states and non-state actors, both local and external, are already working on some of these recommendations: “We look forward to the full and successful implementation of the recommendations, a holistic approach across the four thematic areas in a way that maximizes the positive health impacts for the poor and the most vulnerable in Nigeria.”
Osinbajo assured that the federal government will continue to promote strong partnerships and facilities between ministries and agencies, and between development departments, including for coordinated implementation of SDGs in Nigeria.
In her opening statement, Princess Orelope-Adefulire noted that effective implementation of the SDGs requires periodic review to ensure progress measurement, generate knowledge and inform policy change.
She said the reports released Thursday are the result of a series of efforts led by her office in close collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning; the Federal Ministries of Health and Education, with the support of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in Nigeria.
“The review of SDGs 3 and 4 has been prioritized based on our national development priorities as set out in the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP -2017-2020),” she added.
“The findings of this strategic review support further evidence for improving children’s rights to education in Nigeria and how government at all levels, working with development partners and civil society, can best address systemic gaps and challenges, including the negative effects of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, to advance our shared commitment to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” she continued.
In her message on the occasion, the UN Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed, thanked Orelope-Adefulire and the UN team in the country “for organizing this important and timely event”.
She added: “As the reports show, Nigeria recognizes that health and education are cornerstones for sustainable and equitable development. progress in these areas is crucial for resilience to global shocks. And whether the multiple crises facing the world
strengthening the Nigerian healthcare system is key to being better prepared for current and future pandemics.
“And the report sheds some light on the key priority areas for doing so. including improving governance and accountability of health care programs across the country. The report is also very timely, as the recommendations on education are in line with the focus areas of the Transformative Education Summit, including inclusive and equitable education, especially for our girls, safe and healthy schools, fundamental skills and lifelong learning, digital skills and education Financing.
“I encourage all of you to quickly translate these recommendations into actionable levels so that we can accelerate our implementation of the 2030 Agenda. I congratulate Nigeria on the progress noted in the report. Let these results serve as a catalyst for even greater performance.”