(as prepared for delivery)
Good afternoon. I stand on existing protocols.
I am honored to be here with you today for the launch of the long-awaited Northern Education Initiative Plus. This five-year activity will invest approximately $58 million in Bauchi to strengthen the state’s ability to deliver quality education.
Through this collaboration, nearly 2 million children will learn to read, 45,000 instructors will improve their teaching ability, and more than 500,000 out-of-school children will start attending non-formal learning centers in both Sokoto and Bauchi states.
The U.S. government and the American people stand behind Nigeria’s efforts to help more children have access to quality education. USAID has supported your efforts to improve education for many years now, and the “plus” added to the name of this initiative is an indication of that continuing collaboration.
Part of the reason that USAID is investing in Bauchi is because your government is investing. I was pleased to hear the announcement of Engineer Nuhu Gidado as the new Commissioner for Education. We all look forward to hearing more about the priorities you have set out for your Ministry.
While the initiative is intended to support Bauchi state’s priorities, the primary goal is to strengthen the capabilities of states and local government institutions that provide education. Those institutions will then be better able to teach children to read and to expand access to safe, appropriate learning environments.
I want to stress here that this is a partnership. While USAID can provide expertise, we can only get behind what states like Bauchi are doing; we want to see how state governments are investing their own resources. Bauchi’s success can serve as a model for what other states can do to improve the sector.
In closing, more children attending school to learn how to read and write sets the basic foundation for a better life and a stronger economy. We, and the people of Bauchi, look forward to your long-term success.