President of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), Tijani Muhammad-Bande, has decried the engagement of untrained teachers in many schools around the world.
Mr Muhammad-Bande, who spoke at the opening session of the 2020 Annual Parliamentary Hearing at the UN Headquarters on Monday, described the trend as worrisome and called for investment in teacher training.
According to him, the use of unqualified teachers in schools is a threat to Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4, which borders on quality education.
“We must invest in teacher training in order to provide students with the highest quality education.
“The current trend of having untrained teachers in many schools is worrying. I call on all Member States to provide quality training for trainee teachers,’’ he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the event is tagged “Education as a Key to Peace and Sustainable Development: Toward the Implementation of SDG 4’’.
The programme is at the instance of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), an organisation of lawmakers from 178 countries that aims to promote democracy and inter-parliamentary dialogue.
He said that the SDG4 was one of his key priorities, adding that it must be approached as a “stand-alone and cross-cutting goal to ensure a peaceful and prosperous world for all’’.
Muhammad-Bande, who is Nigeria’s Ambassador to the UN, highlighted other issues critical to the provision of quality education, including funding, security, gender parity and curriculum development.
He said at least one in four countries did not meet the SDG4 funding benchmarks set in 2015.
The benchmarks require countries to allocate no fewer than four per cent of their Gross Domestic Products (GDP) and 15 per cent of their annual budgets to education.
“Parliaments have a major role to play in scaling up action in this vital area.
“I urge you to ensure that adequate financial resources are allocated to education, girls’ education and technical and vocational training throughout your national budgetary processes.
“If we are to address the learning crisis and for students to meet the minimum levels of literacy and basic proficiency in mathematics globally, we must invest in our people, in particular our youth,’’ he said.
Muhammad-Bande underscored the need for countries to provide a safe learning environment free from bullying for students.
He called on the member states to provide adequate sanitation facilities and clean running water, safe paths to school, electricity, and Internet connectivity.
“It is therefore clear that we can only make gains on implementing SDG 4 if we approach it as a cross-cutting area which spans multiple government portfolios.
“Throughout your discussions, I trust that you will pay due consideration to the importance of curricula.
“A strong curriculum taught by well-trained teachers is essential to ensuring a high level of learning which meets the needs of students, indeed the needs of society.
“The Fourth Industrial Revolution challenges us to re-commit our promise to leave no one behind,’’ he said.
The Nigerian envoy advocated the integration of ICT into school curricula to equip young people with the skills they require for a rapidly developing world and to bridge the digital divide.
“For children trapped in conflict, school provides stability and hope for a brighter future. Indeed, each year of education reduces the risk of a youth’s involvement in conflict by 20 per cent.
“Moreover, people with a second-level education exhibit more tolerance towards people of a different race, religion and migration status than their peers with only a primary-level education.
“We must provide young people with the tools they need to become peacebuilders,’’ he added.
Muhammad-Bande, therefore, urged countries to collaborate to guarantee children equal access to holistic quality education, noting that failure will amount to failing a generation.
“As we begin the Decade of Action and Delivery to implement the SDGs, I call on you, as elected representatives of the people, to take action to implement SDG 4.
“There is no justifiable reason for 265 million children to be out of school at this very moment.
“There can be no barriers to entry into education. We must guarantee at a minimum, universal access to basic education for every child, everywhere.
“Education is the great equaliser and if we fail to invest in our people, especially our youth, we will fail in implementing the primary mandate of the United Nations, which is to uphold peace and security for all,’’ Muhammad-Bande said.