The federal government has restated its commitment towards addressing the menace of out-of-school children in the country.
Speaking in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja, the executive secretary, Nigerian Educational Research Development Council (NERDC), Prof. Ismail Junaidu, said the menace must be immediately tackled.
Junaidu said the federal government through the Federal Ministry of Education had initiated a roadmap which if strengthened and implemented would go a long way in addressing the problems.
He said, “Lately this government is very serious on getting the out-of-school children back to school. A roadmap has been developed and when you look at the roadmap, there is heavy concentration on the need to have out-of-school children reduced.
“There is also an emphasis on skills acquisition. Now, in the senior secondary schools, no child will graduate without having a trade- is it hair plaiting, garment making, fisheries, etc.
“This is put in place so that by the time the child finishes, that child can decide to stop and do his/her own business or proceed to the university, polytechnic or college of education.
“He or she has something to hold on to; so this government is giving every attention to skills acquisition to help take the students off the street.”
Also, the president, National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools, FCT (NAPPS), Mrs. Ruth Agboola, canvassed for the federal government’s concentration on schools in rural communities as a way of reducing the number of out-of-school children.
Agboola called on the government for strict enforcement of educational policies geared towards eliminating totally the menace of out-of-school children in the country.
She also appealed for support in terms of educational learning materials, laboratory equipment assistance and other
support that has to do with education.
“We all know that the government has been trying, but I feel they should try more, providing free education is not enough to enforce it.
“The level of enforcement is still low, if you are providing good things that people are not appreciating, there should be a way you will make it acceptable at all cost.
“I also want to say that individuals, not just the government, should adopt the children that they will educate. Individuals can support what the government has been doing to take off students on the streets back to school.
“Though the efforts of UBEC/SUBEB are yielding results because it is a long-term achievement, UBEC has to put in more effort. Asides assisting public schools, the private schools should also be involved. There are some private schools in rural areas where government influence is not felt,” she said.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Education, Prof. Tahir Mamman, recently disclosed that the Adolescent Girls Initiative for Learning and Empowerment (AGILE) project currently running in 18 states was critical to reducing the number of out-of-school children.
Mamman, who charged state governments not to allow the project to suffer setbacks, warned that the project would be strictly supervised as successful delivery would trickle down to every part of the country.
“The AGILE project aimed at reducing the number of out-of-school children is at the heart of the priority project of the federal government. In fact, if we are to put a number to it, it is actually the number one because it is part of out-of-school issues we are talking about.
“Therefore, the success of this project is the success of the federal government in reducing the number of out-of-school children in our country,” he said.
Also, the executive secretary, Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), Hamid Bobboyi, said the Commission was working with states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) to develop an action plan to tackle the country’s out-of-school children crisis.
Speaking recently, at the Commission’s
25th quarterly meeting with executive chairman of SUBEB, Bobboyi, said the meeting was to deliberate on issues affecting the basic education sub-sector and to redefine national and state priorities.
He added that the efforts have culminated in the creation of an action plan that states and the FCT could then implement.
“The UBE Act puts the primary responsibility for basic education on the state and the local governments. UBEC, in partnership with UNICEF, held a national conference on out-of-school children in 2022, the outcome of which was the development of a national framework of action.
“This conference was followed by a validation and finalisation meeting on the national framework of action, held in April 2023, and regional stakeholder sensitisation meetings held between July and August 2023.
“The states and FCT are currently in the process of preparing their action plans on out-of-school children for implementation,” he said.
Also, the chairman, Board of trustee, Civil Society Action Coalition on Education for All(CSACEFA), Tom Maiyashi, said the country would be producing an army of out-of-school children if the challenge was not addressed immediately. (NAN)