THE Minister of State for Education, Ezenwo Wike, has re-iterated the determination of the current administration to effectively implement all bilateral agreements entered into with foreign partners towards delivery quality education in the country. As a demonstration of that determination, he said the government has planned to incorporate its counterpart funding into national budgets come next year to avoid lapses.
The minister, who made the remark while playing host to the newly appointed Country Representative of the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Mr. Tetsuo Seki, in his office in Abuja, however, called on the agency to expand its area of collaboration with the Nigerian government, especially in its ongoing Strengthening Mathematics and Science Education (SMASE) programme.
Under the programme, while the Japanese government is providing technical assistance in the training of science and Mathematics teachers in some selected states of the federation, participating state governments are expected to provide logistics. The programme is being co-ordinated by the National Teachers’ Institute (NTI), Kaduna.
Wike’s renewed commitment was prompted by Seki’s revelation that some of the participating state governments under the first phase of the programme were not showing enough commitments, especially giving their failure to release their counterpart funding for effective execution.
Seki, however, commended effective leadership style being provided by Wike towards redressing the situation.
Wike said the government was willing to partner with international partners towards improving quality of education concerning particularly Mathematics and other science subjects in Nigeria.
The minister, who admitted low commitments in terms of budgetary provision, however, said the government had decided to redress the problem by capturing all its financial commitments as regards counterpart funding to avoid undue delay, saying the process would begin with the 2013 budget.
Wike said: “You can be rest assured that whatever it is to be done SMASE programme will be highly upgraded and we will do all we can to give it the necessary support. The last time we held stakeholders’ meeting, we identified some problems. One of those problems had to do with budgetary constraints. But I am happy to tell to you that in future all our contributions, in terms of finance, will be built into our national budget so that we would not have any course to delay.
“For 2013 budget, which we are already preparing, we are building our own counterpart funding into the process, so that we do not encounter setbacks as far as this programme is concerned. It is a programme that means much for this government. If you looked at the performance of candidates in public examinations, mostly it in Mathematics and science-related subjects, you would see that we recorded lot of failures. So, with this intervention, we think we are coming closer to resolving all the problems of this low performance in public examination.”
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