Leaders at all levels should consider the education of their people, especially children and girls, as a duty, enabling them access more socio-economic opportunities and live better lives, according to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN.
Prof. Osinbajo stated this in Abuja on Saturday evening at an event organized to mark the 2021 Mass Literacy Day by the MALLPAI Foundation, a non-governmental organisation founded in 2009 by Hajiya Aisha Atiku Bagudu, the wife of the Kebbi State Governor.
MALLPAI, which means in full “Mass Literacy for the Less Privileged and Almajiri Initiative” addresses concerns around illiteracy and out-of-school children, with a commitment to enhancing the quality of life by supporting and empowering initiatives that improve access to health, education and agriculture opportunities for Nigerians.
According to the Vice President, “we owe our people the duty to educate them. We owe our people a duty to lift their minds to the level where they can benefit maximally from their environment and give benefit to others.”
The VP further noted that access to “education is a ticket to the full enjoyment of all human, civil and socio-political rights.
“So, at the most basic level, the ability to read and write, not just in one’s own language, but in global languages as well is crucial. To be deprived of education is to be deprived of the means of pursuit of a dignified existence where one can fully contest or collaborate with others for the benefits that life offers.”
Continuing, Prof. Osinbajo said, “every study confirms that education, especially of women, has a multiplier effect on everything around them. It usually means a longer life span for themselves and their children. It means that they are less likely to die of communicable diseases, since they are more likely to understand best practices in hygiene, sanitation and follow useful materials on health care.”
While commending Hajiya Bagudu for her commitment and hard work, the VP noted that, “I truly believe that the more lives you transform in the communities you serve, the more the mind-set will shift in those communities towards embracing formal education for all.”
Prof. Osinbajo then commended the work of the MALLPAI Foundation, since 2009, for “doing the difficult work of improving access to education and creating skills acquisition opportunities for the poor and underprivileged communities.”
He observed that getting disadvantaged out-of-school children into formal education is a massive challenge, especially where, in some cases, “the prevailing culture is an obstacle.”
But he noted that the by the work of the Foundation it had been shown, especially in the case of girls, that by being sensitive and understanding it is possible to surmount socio-cultural beliefs and practices that hinder access of girls to education.
“What is even more touching for me is that you have included those who were left behind as children, and are creating new opportunities for them as adults, through skills acquisition training and financial aid,” the VP added.
Other dignitaries at the event besides Governor Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State and his wife, included Senators Smart Adeyemi and Olubunmi Adetunmbi; Minister of State for Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba; Deputy Minister of Education, Malawi, Madalitso Wirima Kambauwa; former First Lady of Nigeria, Hajiya Maryam Abacha, and the wife of the Chief of Army Staff, Hajiya Salamatu Yahaya, among others.