In order to reduce the large number of out –of school children in Nigeria, the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) has urged governments in the country to increase their budgetary allocations to education and ensure the release and utilisation of the funds.
Premium Times reported how the latest official data in Nigeria shows that the population of out of school children in Nigeria increased from 10.5 million to 13.2 million by 2015.
UNICEF, however, says it is important for the government to put interventions in place to ensure all children go to school in order to facilitate national growth and development.
A UNICEF education specialist, Azuka Menkiti, said this at a media dialogue on Tuesday in Kano.
The event was organised by the Child Right Information Bureau (CRIB) of the Federal Ministry of Information And Culture in collaboration with UNICEF to promote equity in education for children.
The dialogue was attended by government officials, education administrators and media professionals.
According to the specialist, 69 per cent of Nigeria’s out-of-school children are in the northern part of the country, with the North-east having the largest number, followed by North-west.
She said there is need to bridge the gap in education which she categorised into three: location (residence), gender and wealth status.
“Education indicators for Northern Nigeria are different from the Southern part of the country. While the southern states have an average 11 percent of children aged 6-14 years out-of-school, northern states have an average of 31 percent children aged 6-14 years out-of-school rate,” Mrs Menkiti said.
She said supply and demand contributes a mix of barriers to education that create the gap for access, “because when supplies are not there, they will be dealing with issues of quality.
“At the moment, parents have lost confidence in the learning outcome of children. Enrollment drive is working with parents, talking to them, sensitising them giving them awareness on the benefits of sending their children to school.
“Once the parents mindset is changed, their perception about the value of education moves from negative to positive. What we want them to do is take their children to school and support their children to remain in school basically. If that happens, then we are getting it.”
The head of CRIB, Olumide Osanyipeju, in her remarks said although Nigeria’s future prosperity depends on producing children who are well prepared to take their place in tomorrow’s society, “it is unfortunate that a large number of Nigeria children are at risk of deprivation of basic social amenities.”
He said the need for equity – “a realisation that all children have the right to better life, an opportunity to survive, develop and reach their full potentials without discrimination, bias or favouritism, cannot be over emphasised.
“There is a growing evidence that investing in education and protection of the most disadvantaged/vulnerable citizens, in this case children, and addressing inequality will ensure sustained growth and stability of any nation.
“There is need to integrate children, especially those in difficult terrain and other excluded children and focus on equitable distribution,” he said.
Asked of his perceptive on how to get children out of the street back to school, a beverage vendor, Usman Maishai, told PREMIUM TIMES Tuesday evening that international organisations should stop giving money meant for social interventions to politicians.
“Most of these big men don’t want these children to go to school. The international organisations should ask for land, build the schools and provide amenities and teachers for the students. These children will not get western education if they continue to give money to the politicians,” he said in Sabon-Gari area of Kano.