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Nigeria (Education)

Volume 557: debated on Wednesday 30 January 2013

As discussed with you, Mr Speaker, and as Labour Front Benchers have been advised, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State is in Kuwait for an international conference on the humanitarian crisis in Syria. I hope that the House will accept her apologies for not being here to answer questions today.

Our education programmes in Nigeria have already reached 1.25 million children by improving the quality of education in 3,700 schools, and 6,800 more schools will be reached by 2014. We are supporting school-based management committees to make schools and teachers more accountable to parents, and we are providing training to more than 60,000 teachers.

I thank my hon. Friend for that answer and for the reaffirmation of the Government’s commitment to Nigeria, where there are 10.5 million out-of-school children. Inevitably, we focus on the number of children at school, but given the pressures on teacher training, the infrastructure of schools, and the number of children in classes, can we also focus on the quality of the education that those children are receiving?

I thank my hon. Friend for his question and for his work on the all-party group on global education for all. He goes to the heart of the matter, which is not just the number of children coming into school but the quality of the teaching. The statistics show that in Kwara, for example, only 75 of 19,000 teachers passed a test for nine-year-olds—that gives some idea of the scale of the challenge that we are facing. My hon. Friend will therefore be pleased to know that we have a new teacher development programme supporting over 60,000 teachers.

In addition to the excellent work that DFID does in education in Nigeria, what more can the Minister do to suggest to the large number of British companies in Nigeria that they should also be getting involved in taking on responsibility in this respect?

My hon. Friend raises an important point. All UK companies have the opportunity to get involved and engaged. If he knows the names of the companies concerned, I would be only too happy to contact them myself.