ABEP National Task Team: Keeping the hope alive
Nigeria is noted to be one of the countries with a huge population of out-of-school children and youth (OOSCY), which has remained a challenge to successive governments. Over 20 million children and youth in the country are reported to be out of school as of 2018 (See the full report of ACCESS Phase 1 Research). Population growth, poverty, conflicts, marginalisation, socio-cultural barriers and gender biases are found to be key factors contributing to the increasing number of out-of-school children and youths in Nigeria. The COVID -19 pandemic also deprived many families of their sources of livelihood even as schools were closed over a long period. In this circumstance, more children and youths are envisaged to have dropped out of school.
Cross section of stakeholders at ABEP Implementation Flag-off in June 2022
The OOSCY are widespread across the geopolitical zones and States of the country, albeit in varying numbers. However, the majority are in the northern region, especially the northeast and northwest geo-political zones. The government has sought to address the challenge of out-of-school children and youth with one of the earliest interventions being the establishment of agencies for mass literacy, adult and nonformal education both at the federal and state levels. The activities of the agencies have, however, been focused on providing basic literacy and numeracy skills for those who missed out on education, particularly those above 18 years.
A Spark of Hope
In 2019, the National Council on Education (NCE), the highest policy making body in the Nigerian education sector, approved a new educational programme that seeks to provide an Accelerated Education Program (AEP) for overage OOSCY between the ages of 10 and 18. The programme, which is referred to as the Accelerated Basic Education Programme (ABEP), is described as a national response to the growing incidence of OOSCY in the country. The specific goal of the Programme is to reduce OOSYC to the barest minimum and bring back to school the large number of overage and out-of-school children who are disadvantaged, marginalized and affected by crises, disasters or other socio-economic factors. ABEP is designed to provide the recipients with unique learning experiences that will enable them to acquire the knowledge, skills and competencies sufficient for mainstreaming and coping with the curriculum in the formal school system.
Flag-off of ABEP Implementation by the Federal Ministry of Education on June 23, 2022, at Abuja, Nigeria
The Federal Ministry of Education, in June 2022, officially flagged-off the nationwide implementation of the programme. The flag-off clearly communicates Nigeria government’s intention and willingness to ensure the institutionalisation of AE in the country’s education system. The institutionalisation of ABEP in the Nigerian education system, however, requires policy changes both at the Federal and State levels, particularly in the areas of funding, regulation and coordination. Achieving these policy changes would require strategically coordinated and concerted efforts and deeper engagements with critical stakeholders in the Nigerian education sector. This underscored the formation of the Accelerated Basic Education Programme National Task Team under the ACCESS Phase 2. The Task Team comprises government officials, INGOs, NNGOs, Civil Society Organisations and Donors. The government officials are from relevant federal and state agencies. Regional representation was ensured in the selection of State government officials. In addition to its inclusive composition, another strength of the Task Team is that it is led by a government official with support from a representative of one of the international NGOs. This leadership structure is strategic and guarantees sustainability.
ACCESS Phase 2 created the opportunity that brought these key stakeholders together towards achieving policy changes for AE institutionalisation in Nigeria. This aligned perfectly with the overall purpose of Phase 2, which was to drive and support policy changes towards greater institutionalisation of accelerated education in Nigeria, while critically analysing factors that will both enable and constrain this change.
ABEP National Task Team brainstorming on the Action Plan at the workshop held in August 2023 at Abuja
Our Plan and Aspiration
The overarching objective of the Task Team is to drive the process of institutionalisation of Accelerated Basic Education Programme in Nigeria through the coordination and implementation of targeted activities and programmes. The Task Team has demonstrated commitment to this course by articulating a need-driven action plan for the actualisation of the core objective. Click here for a short clip about the Task Team and our plan.
The Action Plan is the ABEP Task Team’s Road map for the institutionalisation of Accelerated Basic Education Programme (ABEP) in Nigeria. The plan embodies stakeholders’ thoughts on the best approach, the potential opportunities and the possible threats in the instutionalisation process. Four broad objectives constitute the pillars upon which the activities of institutionalization are identified. The objectives are to:
- Ensure the popularization and adoption of Accelerated Basic Education Programme (ABEP) as a basic education option for overage OOSCY in federal state policy framework.
- Achieve the sustainable funding of ABEP through inclusion in annual federal and state budgetary provision.
- Build the capacity of teachers and facilitators for effective delivery of ABEP curriculum.
- Support in the ongoing review of Universal Basic Education Act (UBE) to ensure the integration of ABEP in the national education system and backed by law.
Within the short time of its formation, the Task Team has become stronger with a growing sense of community, shared responsibility and commitment. This is born out of the years of working together in the development of the ABEP framework, the curriculum, the teacher training pack and implementation guidelines prior to the formation of the Task Team under ACCESS Phase 2. In fact, it is this spirit of pursuit of a common goal that sustained the Team after the abrupt withdrawal of funding to ACCESS by Dubai Cares. Although the Task Team has continued to mobilise resources from within to carry out some minor activities, it is currently being confronted with insufficient funds to keep up with the implementation of the Action Plan. The current state of affairs has greatly slowed down the activities of the Team and may lead to a complete halt in the implementation of activities in the Action Plan. This will have high negative impact on the effort to institutionalise ABEP in Nigeria. We believe that with support from donors and partners we shall be able to actualise our goal of giving opportunity to the millions of overage children and youth in Nigeria to access quality basic education through the accelerated education option. Together we can give hope to these children and youth thus making our world a much better place for all.
A section of the Task Team drawing a road map of action at the Abuja workshop in August 2023
For your support and collaboration, contact:
Dr. Chima Egbujuo
ABEP National Task Team Coordinator
Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council (NERDC)
Co-Coordinator, ABEP National Task Team
Plan International Nigeria