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Making NEIS Work in Education Sector

Global Partnership for Education


  The purpose of this write-up is to emphasize on the need to implement NEIS as a sustainable tool for the eradication of out-of-school children phenomena to achieve Education 2030 Agenda.  

 The National Education Insurance scheme (NEIS) is an insurance plan designed to ensure the continuation of children, youth and adult education at the basic, post basic, tertiary and non-formal education in the event of Government not being able to fund education effectively.

The major policy goal for Education for All (EFA) was the declaration of universal access to basic education. It strives to set goals and targets  in order to implement programs towards achievements of the stated goals. 

For the above to be realized, the international education community believed that opening up access to schooling by removing barriers such as school fees and enacting free education and other similar policies would translate to all children being able to access school. For example, the School Fees Abolition Initiative (SFAI) was initiated on the assumption that abolishing school fees would make all children have access to education.

It is worth noting that the children most affected by this out-of-school children phenomenon are: children from poor families, ethnic minorities, orphans, and children trapped in child labor, children in communities affected by conflicts, wars and natural disasters. For the above categories of children, SFAI as a measure to ensure access to free education was not enough. Although many of these children were able to gain access to education, ensuring that they attend, sustain and complete quality education requires a more complex set of solutions and targeted investments. Thus, the Millennium Development Goals focused on improving on MDG2 whose objective is increasing access. In addition, educators had to find out factors that keep children out of school and devise strategies to mitigate them.

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This era of Sustainable Development Goals 4 (SDG4) is aware of the gap in education outcomes between the Northern Region of Nigeria, some parts of Eastern Region and the Southern parts of Nigeria, the urban and the rural areas, the conflict zones and even the peaceful zones. The National Monitoring Learning Achievements conducted recently in Nigeria by the World Bank attests and confirms these gaps. The same scenario can be seen in other underdeveloped and developing regions of the world.  

Nevertheless, Education programs and interventions would be judged           against a new standard of achieving meaningful and sustainable outcomes for all children. The Out-of-School Children Initiatives positively testifies this commendable progress and strives to make these achievements sustainable. However, bold policies, investments are required to ensure that the next generations of poor, displaced and disadvantaged children are admitted, enrolled, retained, sustained and successfully graduate from all levels of education, thus setting them on a path towards breaking cycles of ignorance, poverty, unemployment, inequality and instability.
      
    It is estimated that 13.5 million Nigerian children of school age are out   of school. According to UNICEF United Nations children funds, the population of out of school children in Nigeria has risen from 10.5 million to 13.2million this is believed to be the highest in the world. Other countries, especially the underdeveloped as well as the developing countries are experiencing same.

Among this population are children who are not only out of school but those who have never been to the four corners of any schools, also most of these children are in the northern part of Nigeria where insecurity has disrupted academic and social activities. In the south east region, boys are most affected due to poverty and lack of mentor ship. The girls are equally affected due to early girl-child marriage and poverty.  These children while away their time during school hours hawking as road vendors or are into one criminality or the other. The future of those children is at their own mercy; these children can go to school if not for finance to pay transportation to and fro home, school fees, books, stationary, uniforms and so on. in most cases the girl child is denied this education in order to make room for the boy child. This lack of money is also blamed on today’s economy in Nigeria. 
These out-of-school children ambition and dream to become educated and influential in future is hampered because they are not going to school. In some of these regions, their inability to go to school is as a result of the campaign waged against western education. Some cultural believe and practices also play significant role in the inadequate access to education in these regions.

According to Adegbile (2018), the increased numbers of out of school children in any country affects economic growth. Sixty percent of 13.2 million out-of-school children who are denied basic education are girls. These are the nation builders who confirm the saying that educating a girl is equal to educating the whole nation. Denying girl - child education sure would affect any nation negatively economically and socially.

It is worth noting that the budgetary allocation on education is not enough to bridge the gap as only seven percent of Nigeria’s budget which in 2018 24 billion was earmarked for education. As of date, there are no new policies to boost education funding in Nigeria. All the sectors and levels of education are affected, thus the existence of out of school children phenomena abound in Nigeria. All hands must be on deck to eradicate this canker-worm destroying the foundation of our future generation

To make NEIS work in Education sector, it should:
i)             be established in all states and Federal Capital Territory;
ii)           premium payment would be sourced from the Federal Government Budgetary contributions; private sectors  support as part of their social responsibilities; through subsidies, preferential loan, by private sectors; through scholarships from  NGOs and Community Donor Partners and parents contributions through one-off premium payment per child; payment for every child starts on the day of enrollment in school;
iii)          Managed by board of trustees made up of Federal Government nominees and private sectors/companies;
iv)         To involve the engagement of insurance companies undertakers, brokers to provide the specified class of insurance the Federal Government / Board of Trustees consider appropriate;
v)           The scheme would provide funds for: basic infrastructure requirements; minor/urgent repairs in schools; all items currently on school charges list; to cover compensation in the event of ill health and parents death.

With the proper and timely implementation of NEIS, there would be:
·        Success of Education for ALL;
·        Relevant and effective learning outcomes;
·        Free, equitable and quality Basic education;
·        Education opportunity for all;
·        All stakeholders concern and participation;
·        Provision of basic infrastructure requirements; and
             Successfully being implemented in the Federal Government   unity schools and some developed countries.  
            
The implementation of NEIS would also lead to :
·        Access to Basic education for all boys and girls;
·        Access to life-long quality learning outcomes for all;
·        Economic empowerment;
·        Social Security;
·        Good citizenship;
·      Bridging the financial gaps for all low and middle income classes; and
·    Funding of education as a collective effort of Federal Government; and Private Sectors.
On the other hand, inadequate and unreliable birth records, ignorance, direct provision of funds to the school management on yearly basis to cover school needs, inadequate funding and sensitization, lack of political will in policy implementation and mismanagement would mar the work-ability of the scheme if not well monitored.
Therefore, all stakeholders in education should be aware of     the increase in the number of out-of-school children; the right of every child, youth and adult to access to education and the need to implement NEIS as a sustainable tool for the eradication of out-of- school children phenomena to achieve Education 2030 Agenda.



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