Group wants FG to tackle spate of out-of-school children

As the world celebrates the International Day of the African Child, SOS Children’s Villages Nigeria has said there was a need to revaluate the concerns of education and the growing number of out-of-school children in Nigeria.

They also called for a collective efforts to ensure every Nigerian child has access to quality education in the safest environment with proper measures that cater to their well-being.

The National Director of SOS Children’s Villages in Nigeria, Eghosa Erhumwunse, in a press release issued on Sunday, cited an example of a recent report from UNICEF, which states that Nigeria has the highest number of out-of-school children in the world, with about 18.4 million children out of school in Nigeria.

According to the report, what is the fate of the Nigerian child if 1 in 3 Nigerian children is out of school? Twelve point four million (12.4 million) children have never seen the inside of a classroom, and five point nine million (5.9 million) leave school earlier than the stipulated graduation time. Nigeria accounts for 15% of the global total of out-of-school children (UNICEF, 2022).

According to him, these figures are alarming and underscore barriers to education such as conflict and insecurity, vulnerability and scarce resources, cultural and gender norms, effects of climate change, limited infrastructure, and accessibility challenges.

He said : “There is an urgent need to address the barriers preventing millions of Nigerian children from attending school. Education is not just about knowledge acquisition; it is a fundamental right and a catalyst for breaking the cycle of poverty as seen in many other countries.

“Nigeria, as a country, must double its efforts in tackling the issues of out-of-school children in society, especially in rural communities. SOS Children’s Villages prioritizes the educational needs of children through its numerous program implementations ensuring every child, irrespective of their background, receives the opportunity to learn, dream, and achieve their full potential.”

“SOS Children’s Villages in Nigeria calls on the government to reinvest in actionable policies and implementations that will take these children off the streets.

” There is a need for family strengthening to build economic capacity, empowering parents and caregivers to place their children in school, thereby reducing the number of out-of-school children.

” The essence of education will be defeated if learning environments are not conducive and safe for the children. All hands must be on deck to ensure absolute security and peaceful atmosphere in schools by fully implementing the Safe School Declaration across states and communities.

“Communities and relevant stakeholders must actively sensitize and create awareness on the importance of education for children, preaching the gospel of a child’s right to education as contained in the Child Rights Law.

“Most importantly, providing alternative care for children in emergencies reduces the number of out-of-school children. This method provides psychosocial and educational support for children who have lost or are at risk of losing parental care and ensures that they grow in a loving environment fit and mentally ready for school and the society.

“Lastly, policymakers, educators, civil society, and individuals should renew their dedication to creating an environment where every child can aspire, dream, and achieve regardless of their circumstances, empowering future generations to build a brighter and more equitable world,” he said.

SOS Children’s Villages is an esteemed child-centered international organization committed to providing a loving home and quality education for children who have lost or are at risk of losing parental care in Nigeria since 1973.