New Delhi, Nov 19 (IANS) Many private educational institutes from India are planning to invest in Nigeria, said the West African country's Education Minister Ruqayyatu Ahmed Rufa'I, adding that the move will also help the nation boost its education system.
"We are looking towards getting more Indian investors to invest in education in Nigeria," Rufa'I told IANS on the sidelines of the E9 (Education 9) Summit held in the national capital earlier this month.
"We have already held discussions with some (investors)," she said.
The minister said among those who had agreed to invest in Nigeria were Amity University, Mahatma Gandhi University in Meghalaya, Educomp and Edusoft (education software solution providers), the West African wing of NIIT (computer education giant), and IL&FS Cluster Development Initiative (the group runs skill development programmes).
"We are looking towards getting more Indian investors to invest in education in Nigeria," she said.
The minister said investment from India might also help them in achieving the Millennium Development Goal of education for all, which they feared they might not meet.
"We wish to work closely with India in the area of education, to learn from the experience you have gathered, especially since the launch of the right to education," she said.
According to Unicef figures, 40 percent of Nigerian children aged between six and 11 do not attend any primary school.
Despite a significant increase in enrolment rates in recent years, it is estimated that about 4.7 million children of primary school age are still not in school in Nigeria.
Rufa'I said efforts were on to universalise education in her country and significant achievements had been made.
However, the country's huge population was the biggest hindrance towards achieving education for all by 2015, she said.
According to Nigeria's National Population Commission, the population of the country is 167 million.
"The biggest problem is perhaps the number (for us). Because of the huge number, despite all our efforts, we have not been able to achieve the target. We may miss the 2015 target," she said.
"We have made some progress, but more is needed," she said.
The E9 represents nine of the world's most populous countries −− Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Nigeria and Pakistan. The forum is aimed at meeting challenges of education in these countries.
Nigeria held the chair of E9 from 2010−12 and then handed it over to India.
"E9 has the world's most populous countries. And if we miss the goal, it will be a setback for all of us. Population poses a problem for all of us and we have to be ready to meet the challenges," Rufa'I said.
(Anjali Ojha can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)