Abuja - President Goodluck Jonathan, on Sunday said the Federal Government will partner with faith-based organisations, particularly the church, in improving the quality of education in Nigeria.
Jonathan stated this at the opening of the plenary of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN), in Abuja.
He said that the Federal Government was open to any form of collaboration with groups that had the requisite capacity to deliver qualitative services in the educational sector.
“I found it encouraging and instructive that the theme of this conference is partnership between government and the church in the educational sector.”
“I strongly believe that when the church partners with government there can be no limit to our successes.”
“We will always welcome opportunities for robust dialogue with the church in the promotion of educational standard in Nigeria,” he said.
Jonathan added that government had already put in place structures that would promote partnership between government and the private sector in various sectors of the economy.
According to him, the church must always be encouraged to constantly intervene in the affairs of the society and that government commitment was to raise standards and maintain the quality in the sector.
He said that a partnership with the Catholic Church would not only be appropriate but a step in the right direction given the church’s antecedents in the provision of qualitative education in the past.
Jonathan decried the declining educational standard which he attributed partly to the takeover of mission schools by governments in the past.
He commended state governments that had started the process of partnering with the church in the provision of education and stressed that the Federal Government would consider similar proposals.
Earlier, Senate President David Mark had commended the bishops’ conference for the theme of this year’s conference, noting that it was appropriate and worth deliberating on.
He urged all parties involved in the proposed partnership to commence discussions without further delay to redeem the sector.
Mark, however, cautioned stakeholders in the sector to desist from politicising the system to avoid causing further harm to the sector.
Mark urged the conference to pray for lasting peace in the country and for the family of victims of the recent Boko Haram attacks in Yobe and other states in the North East.
In his message to the conference, the President of CBCN, the Most Rev. Ignatius Kaigama, urged the return of all mission schools to their original owners.
He said that the sector was in dire need of attention and that the fortunes of the sector could be best redeemed through a systematic partnership between the church and government.
“For the umpteenth time, we seize this occasion to request that schools taken from religious bodies and other voluntary organisations be returned, accompanied by reasonable financial assistance from the annual budget for education.”
“This will be a matter of justice rather than a favour to enable us to educate children who, although may be in our private schools, are citizens of this country,” he said.
On the national dialogue, Kaigama said that the interest of the country must be considered above that of individuals, groups or any region.
He said that there were other important issues of national interest that should dominate discussions at the conference and could better the lives of Nigerians.
Kaigama called on politicians to be cautious in their utterances and actions as the country moved toward 2015 general elections.
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