atiku-abubakaBy Vincent Ujumadu Awka

—FORMER Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar yesterday in Awka, Anambra State, tasked leaders at all levels and philanthropic individuals to pay more attention to the education sector so as to relieve parents of the burden, saying that somebody like him could not have gone to school if his parents were required to pay for his education.

Atiku, who was chairman at the 5th  Zik Lecture Series organized by the Faculty of Social Sciences of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, recalled that access to education was expanded by government in the 1970s when revenue increased as a result of increased crude oil exports, but regretted that government participation in education had reduced drastically in recent times due to dwindling revenue and other challenges, thereby posing a challenge to parents.

According to the former vice president, while the provision of good quality education remained primarily the responsibility of government, individuals and organizations must step in and assist in a variety of ways.

He said: “The importance of education to modern societies and their peoples cannot be overemphasized. Education is too important to be left in the hands of government alone and good quality education should not depend solely on the ebb and flow of government revenue. “It is education that took me from a small village in Adamawa to the position that I have attained today and helped me to make modest contributions that I have made so far to our country and humanity.

I could not have gone to school if my parents were to pay for it and that is why I strongly believe that primary and secondary education should be free and compulsory in our country and indeed across Africa. “That way, every child gets to acquire basic education to help them improve their lives and help us produce an enlightened citizenry. That is how it is in the countries we look up to as models of development. “What education has done for me and my commitment to it is the reason why my biggest philanthropic endeavour has been in the field of education.

In the educational village that I established in Yola, our focus is not just providing students with high quality education from kindergarten to university, we are also focused on providing them with the skills to become leaders in their various communities and countries.”

Former Prime Minister of Kenya, Mr. Raila Odinga, who delivered the Zik’s lecture, urged African leaders to stand up in defense of democracy, regretting that many of the continent’s so- called elected leaders were more authoritarian than the military dictators that came to power through the barrel of the gun.

Read more at: http://www.vanguardngr.com/2016/11/wouldnt-gone-school-parents-pay-atiku/