Quick poll: How many Nigerians you know can read, write and speak in French? Raise one hand and count. Quick poll 2: How many Dudus (of Oduduwa) you know can read and write and speak in Yoruba? Igbo? Hausa? Fulani? Tiv? All five? Most Nigerians can barely communicate in their own ancestral tongues, can barely make a living in the borrowed garbs they are forced to verbalise, yet scarce resources are being used to keep an alien tongue alive Five years into this new millennium, God's forsaken country continues to take giant steps backwards into puerile colonial mentality and anarchy. No single policy has destroyed educational ambition among the country's youth as much as the lowest-common-factor UBE. In the name of "national character", the UBE policy was introduced to ensure that anyone in public funded schools had the same educational attainments on leaving school, irrespective of whether their socio-economic environment provided opportunities for employment as cattle rearers or medical practitioners. It was partnered with withdrawal of funding from privately owned schools. Now the damned are borrowing USD50million under the pretext that it is for education of girls. Do boys not deserve to be educated? If govt passed policies that favour domestic enterprises so that employment opportunities abound in the land, will parents not hurry their girls and boys into schools to ensure their competitiveness? It is an open secret that NEEDS and NEPAD are designed to confine Nigerian and African economies into the roles of primary resource producers and technology consumers. NEEDS is a repackaging of the economically destructive SAP programmes promoted by the IMF/WB, whose officials are now Nigerian government officials and advisers. Fabian Osuji, education minister, is the person who said Nigeria's graduates are unemployable on national television. Even as the world vigorously pursues mastery of digital and genetic technologies, our education policies prepare our children to tend school gardens. If it is not yet clear that this govt's education policy is wholly misguided and confused, then consider the imposition of French as a second national language, after English - another alien language deriving from the shame of colony. Nothing wrong with speaking French, mind, but it is inappropriate for the socio-economic development needs of Nigerian citizens. The learning and commercial needs of majority of Nigerians are still being restricted by the limitations of compulsory English language study imposed more than 60 years ago to facilitate expoitation of our people. Why does this govt not actively promote Yoruba a national language. It is spoken by a full quarter of the country's population. Why not Ibo or Hausa? If the concern is to improve commercial links with the outside world, why not promote Chinese? It is the language of the most vibrant global economy. China is already the manufacturing capital of the world. Its economy is more dynamic than most of the old Europe with which this fatuous govt is so enamoured. The money Nigerians spend on importing virtually all their daily needs is very likely to end up in China, even if USA, UK, France or other european countries acts as financier and broker for the transaction. Why not learn Chinese and go direct? How confused, pray tell, is a govt that says universities should sell student accommodation to the private sector, and then turns around to finance imposition of yet another alien language on its own people? === Educationists tasked over NEEDS December 10, 2004 President Olusegun Obasanjo yesterday challenged stakeholders in the education sector to develop the best way to reposition the sector to fulfill its role in National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (NEEDS). Obasanjo threw the challenge yesterday at the 51st National Council of Education (NCE) which began on Monday in Minna. Obasanjo, who was represented by the Minister of Science and Technology, Professor Turner Isoun, had launched the Girls' Education Project (GEP) of the Federal Ministry of Education, United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID), which provided a grant of N6.5 billion (26 million pounds) to fund the project, and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) . The President said, NEEDS recognises education as key transformational tool and an instrument for positive change. Education reform is therefore at the very heart of NEEDS. Federal Ministry of Education in collaborating with United Nations World Food Programme (UNWFP) would develop a project on school feeding that would support Universal Basic Education (UBE) programme. The Minister of Education, Professor Fabian Osuji, made this known in his keynote address at yesterday's launching of the $50 million Girls Education Project (GEP) at the on-going 51st National Council on Education (NCE) meeting in Minna. He said the project "which would attract NEPAD funding to the tune of 50 per cent would support school feeding goals of improved enrolment, attendance, retention, completion and achievement." He however did not disclose the amount budgetted for the programme which is expected to take off next year. The minister added that relevant ministries and other stakeholders, including the private sector and local communities are expected to be involved at both the planning and implementation stages while Federal Ministry of Education would provide the overall coordination and supervision of the programme. Among other benefits, the programme would encourage local farmers to increase local agricultural production, create local jobs, help improve health and sanitation of school children and the establishment of school gardens and farms. It would also enhance the general nutritional status of school children and thus improve their learning abilities. Osuji also announced the proposed enforcement of the adoption of French as the second official language, thus making it a compulsory, core subject in junior and senior secondary schools the country beginning next year. This had been approved by the 49th NCE in 2002, before it was incorporated in the 2003 edition of National Policy on Education. Federal and State Ministries of Education have therefore been called upon to redouble their efforts towards the implementation of this, by engaging suitably qualified French teachers at both levels. On a recent move by the Lagos State Government to establish its own Examination Board , the Minister, quoting relevant potions of the National Minimum Standards and Establishment of Institutions Act 16 of 1985, as amended by Act No 9 of 1993, stressing that "prescription and regulation of minimum standards in education involve curriculum specification, regulatory services by inspection and accreditation, terminal examinations and certification. These areas are specific to Federal Government legislation and control."