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I. Natatou: Address to Summit 2022, Session VIa

Address to Summit 2022 and Leadership Conference,
Seoul, Korea, August 11-15, 2022


Before I start, I'd like to talk about my country, Niger. It’s a nation of West Africa. It borders Algeria, Libya, Chad and South Nigeria. To the West is Burkina Faso and Benin is to the south. This is where I come from. This is a geographic representation of my country.

Your Excellency, Dr. Moon, Co-Founder of the Universal Peace Federation, dear lecturers, ladies and gentlemen, Niger, my country, is very honored to take part alongside delegations from more than 157 nations around the world in this important conference dedicated to the value of peace.

My pride is even greater that the government of Niger organized in cooperation with the Universal Peace Federation, the third Africa Continental Summit, 2019 edition, which was the second of its kind organized in Africa after the one held in January 2018 in Dakar, Senegal. The resounding success of the Niamey conference on the central theme of building a peaceful and prosperous Africa centered on universal values, which saw the participation of more than 2,000 VIPs from all over the world, testifies to the aspiration of our peoples and our leader to the values of peace, security, reconciliation, interdependence and mutual prosperity.

It is therefore the place to address my compliments and thanks to the organizers of this conference in general and to the South Korean government in particular for hosting this year’s event of global significance.

Your Excellency, ladies and gentlemen, it should be recalled that the resolutions of the Niamey summit focused on several important points, including the one centered on the education of youth. Thus, at the end of an audience on May 20th, with H.E. Basim Muhammed, President of the Republic of Niger and head of State, the Director General of the Universal Peace Federation, Dr. Yun Young-ho, declared very appropriately, I quote, “We had a good discussion on this subject. We are going to start the implementation of this project. And Niger can become a model for Africa and for the whole world.”

Indeed, the education system of Niger currently faces four major challenges that are hindering its development. These are, first, the demographic challenge because the population of Niger, estimated at more than 25 million inhabitants in 2022, is made up of 70% young people under age 25, about 17% are of the legal school age 7 to 12 years. It has an annual population growth rate of 3.9, which means that the population doubles every eighteen years.

Second, a security risk because Niger, a country surrounded by three major areas of tension, namely Libya in the northeast, Mali in the northwest and Nigeria in the south, is subject to almost daily terrorist attacks. Given these terrorist attacks, which have caused, among other things, the closure of 855 schools in 2022, thus depriving more than 70,000 children of their right to education.

Thirdly, the health challenge with the COVID-19 pandemic since March 2020, which led to the closure of schools for several months, disrupting the learning of millions of children, disrupting their lives and exacerbating inequalities to the detriment of well-known groups, notably girls in rural areas, nomadic children and children with disabilities.

In addition, this COVID-19 crisis has exposed a weak aspect of the education system of Niger to ensure educational continuity in situations of crisis and disaster.

Fourth, the climate change affecting agriculture and livestock, which provide a living for more than 80% of the population, exposes the latter to the climatic hazards and recurrent drought episodes that characterize the Sahel region. This explains the numerous cases of student absenteeism and dropping out of school, particularly in nomadic areas.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, the analysis of the current situation of our educational system is presented in terms of major challenges and issues. While the implementation of certain reforms has led to remarkable progress in terms of both access and quality of service, many challenges remain. These include the following: primary school coverage is still far from universal, with about one-third of entrants dropping out before reaching the last grade and a primary school completion rate of about 54%; and difficulties in school construction with more than 40% of primary school classrooms located in straw huts, which are inadequate to provide favorable teaching conditions.

This lack of comfort for students and teachers is accentuated by the notorious lack of desks, which forces many students, especially in rural areas, to attend classes seated on the floor. In addition, there are a large number of teachers without adequate initial training which is crucial due to the central place of the teacher in teaching and learning. Significant social and geographic disparities exist, to the disadvantage of girls, rural people and people living in poverty, both in terms of educational conditions and school careers.

There is a very low level of pupil achievement, both in absolute terms and in comparison with many countries in the region. With a very insufficient amount of effective school time before the school year, according to the results of testing, only 31% of pupils at the beginning of the primary cycle have reached this sufficient threshold, compared with 30% of pupils at the end of the cycle. This weakness is reflected in the success rates in the examinations, which are respectively 20% and 22% in 2021, compared with 30% and 25% in other countries.

Retention rates of students in the systems are relatively low in Niger. This reflects the low internal efficiency of the system, which particularly affects vulnerable groups, including girls, children from nomadic areas and children with disabilities. There is poor care for out-of-school children who make up about half of all school-age children, very limited use of digital technology to facilitate pedagogical continuity in case of emergency and/or to optimize learning. Securing schools within conflict areas is also a major challenge, with more than 855 schools closed by 2022.

Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, dear participants, in view of the poor performance of the education system of Niger, the President of the Republic, H.E. Basim Mohammed, stated in his speech to the nation, and I quote, “Education is our greatest challenge. Its weaknesses paralyze our possibilities to build a real human capital capable of taking on the development challenges of our country. Our education system needs to be rethought, and it will be. This will be the translation of the contract that binds me to the Nigerian people. To this end, my country’s new education policy is based on the following four main axes: axis one, increase the capacity of schools, vocational training centers and universities utilizing the construction of adapted and less expensive school and university infrastructures; the generalization of local colleges, the construction of groupings, centers in nomadic areas, etc.

Axis two, promotion of the schooling of young girls through the opening of boarding schools for girls on the secondary level and the reinforcement of the participation of girls in the scientific, technical and professional fields.

Axis three, development of human capital through the training of teachers, the improvement of their working conditions, the promotion of their careers, the raising of their level of qualification, etc.

Axis four, improving the governance of this system through institutional measures and the management of human, material and financial resources.

In line with this education policy and with a view to improving the quality, access and governance of the education system, the Ministry of National Education has undertaken important reforms. These include, but are not limited to, the continuation of the curricula reform, concentrating on language instruction during the first year of learning in elementary school, restructuring of the teacher training colleges so that they meet the quantitative and qualitative needs of teachers and supervisors in the primary and secondary levels, in accordance with the recommendation of the various audits carried out in these areas.

Also included will be the introduction of digital technology in schools with a view to filling the gap in teaching materials, improving teaching practices and promoting distance learning, thus helping to strengthen the resilience of our education system; improvement of the legal framework of private education and reinforcement of the supervisory and regulatory systems to assist this important subsector in playing its part better in the service of a broader and better quality educational offering.

The gradual replacement of straw-hut classrooms with permanent classrooms will continue during this year. I remind you that Niger has about 36,000 classrooms in straw huts. This unfortunately causes recurrent dramatic fires. A national strategy to accelerate the education of girls and women and its action plan will be implemented. It will be particularly important to continue the construction of the girls’ boarding schools in accordance with the commitment of the President of the Republic. Improvement will be made in the governance of the subsector by instituting performance contracts from the central to the decentralized level of the school administration. The aim is to establish a culture of accountability and results.

Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, dear participants, the implementation of all these reforms obviously requires the support of all our technical and financial partners, including the Universal Peace Federation. Indeed, in view of the challenges and important issues of our education system mentioned above, Niger would like to develop partnerships with Europeans, particularly in the area of girls’ education, which would have an obvious impact on equity, social justice, security, sustainable development and peace.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, dear participants, before closing my speech, I would like to reiterate my gratitude to the South Korean authorities and to the leader of the UPF for this opportunity. On this note, I wish that this summit would be most beneficial for all the actors present here and will allow us to lay the foundation of quality education for all in the service of a world of solidarity, peace, prosperity and viability. Thank you for your attention.



To go to the World Summit 2022 Schedule page, click here.