Launch Of The Reports Of The Independent Evaluation Of SDG-3 And SDG-4 In Nigeria

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Today’s event marks the end of a long process which began in December 2018, when the African Regional Workshop on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Evaluation in Addis Ababa, Nigeria showcased the robust institutional frameworks established to guarantee effective implementation of the SDGs in Nigeria.

Since then, the Office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on SDGs in close collaboration with relevant Ministries embarked on an independent evaluation of two priority SDGs; the prioritization of SDG-3 on ‘Quality Health and Well-being For All’ and SDG-4 on ‘Qualitative and Inclusive Education and Life-long Learning For All’. These two country-led evaluations were technically and financially supported by UNICEF Nigeria.

Implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Nigeria began shortly after the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development by World Leaders at the United Nations General Assembly in September 2015. With the adoption of the Agenda and the SDGs, we have set for ourselves a vision to end extreme poverty and safeguard our planet by the year 2030.

Achieving inclusive sustainable development is an objective that aligns closely with our government’s desire to bring 100 million people out of poverty in 10 years. It is for this reason that the Federal Government of Nigeria established a number of programmes to support the acceleration of the achievement of the SDGs. The Office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on SDGs has continued to provide technical leadership in the operationalization of the SDGs.

The findings contained in these strategic evaluations reinforce the evidence for improving health and education outcomes in Nigeria and highlight how all stakeholders – government, development partners and civil society, can best address systemic gaps and challenges.

So, this official launch today comes with a responsibility for us to intentionally use the key findings of the two evaluations to strengthen policies that support the achievement of the SDGs.

On SDG-3 ‘Quality Health and Well-being For All’, the report notes that Nigeria has a suitable institutional framework, key among them include the Basic Health Care Provision Fund and the National Health Insurance Act – both of which address health financing as a means of improving access to care.

The Report notes that although there is a considerable effort by national health programmes to increase access to health services, there are also strong barriers to the delivery of these services, mainly linked to the quality of care, and availability of equipment and essential medicines.

Even though government health expenditure doubled between 2010 and 2017, out-of-pocket expenditure remains high in Nigeria – 74.3 percent on average between 2010 and 2017, and wide variations exist across the 36 States and the FCT. Indeed, significant gaps between health budgets and health expenditures exist across the country.

One of the important actions to be taken to achieve the SDG-3 is to create a self-sustaining financial architecture, universal health coverage, improved clinical governance and a harmonious health workforce – all of which should prepare us for the challenges of the 21st century.

This must be accompanied by strengthening accountability mechanisms at the level of the State government to improve resource mobilization.

Incidentally, the Report acknowledges that many states and non-state actors, both local and external, are already working on some of the recommendations highlighted in the report. We look forward to the full and successful implementation of these recommendations in a holistic approach across the four thematic areas, in a way that maximizes positive health impact for the poor and most vulnerable groups in Nigeria.

On SDG-4 ‘Qualitative and Inclusive Education and Lifelong Learning For All’, the report noted that education sector policies and strategies, both at the Federal and State levels are aligned with SDG-4.1 targets, particularly in the formulation of the plans. Significantly, the Report noted that education financing is much lower than in other African countries and that transparency around education budgeting and spending needs to improve.

Similarly, governance issues at the Federal, State and Local governments remain at the heart of education provisioning in Nigeria. For example, overlapping responsibilities and coordination between State Universal Basic Education Boards (SUBEBs) and State Ministries of Education were reported to be weak.

On specific indicators, the net enrolment rate shows that just over two-thirds of Nigerian children or 69.9 percent were attending school in 2019. Regarding quality, 2020 data indicates deep challenges with respect to reading and numeracy abilities.

On access, findings revealed that inadequate economic resources remain a barrier to access, and more so for girls than boys. Indeed, sociocultural beliefs and practices, as well as insecurity in some parts act as additional barriers.

More positively, the National Home-Grown School Feeding Programme NHGSFP helped increase school enrolment and a slight improvement in learning outcomes. It also notes that government policies have demonstrated attention to gender equality and the empowerment of girls and women.

However, despite the emphasis on girls’ education, completion rates of girls continue to lag behind boys overall and comparison of learning results between baseline studies and the SDG-4 evaluation shows little progress in closing the gender gap. The negative impact of COVID-19 will likely be greater for girls than for boys.

On these key findings, the Evaluation Report suggests the need to initiate a collective, consultative process to develop a New Education Sector Strategic Plan (2023-2030) with a Theory of Change and Accompanying Results Framework for the Nigerian Basic Education Sector that is gender-responsive. There is a need to delineate specific policies and strategies that go beyond education for all to strategically target the most vulnerable. These policies must recognize the structural barriers that keep children out of school, such as economic hardship, distance from schools, insecurity and unsafe conditions, and sociocultural barriers.

On education financing, building the commitment and incentives necessary to prioritize and increase basic education financing up to 20 percent at all levels is crucial. Timely release of appropriated funds is equally important. State Governments should take advantage of the UBEC matching grants by making the required contributions.

Education stakeholders are encouraged to develop and strengthen coordination mechanisms that can help tighten collaborations and information sharing between Federal and State on one hand, and non-state actors on the other hand.

The Federal Government will continue to promote strong partnerships and synergies among its Ministries, Department and Agencies (MDAs) and development partners for a coordinated implementation of the SDGs in Nigeria. We must all commend the Senior Special Assistant to the President on SDGs Princess Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire and her team for the hard work, diligence and resourcefulness that have been the hallmarks of their work and has borne the fruit of these reports.

Your Excellencies, distinguished guests, it is therefore with great pride that I present to you the Reports of the country-led Independent Evaluation of SDGs 3 “Quality Health and Well-being For All” and 4 “Qualitative and Inclusive Education and Life-long Learning For All’ in Nigeria. I look forward to the effective implementation of the key recommendations in the weeks and months to come.

Thank you and God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.