An official of the Kebbi State Government has said the high number of child hawkers on the streets of Kebbi is caused by the influx of foreigners in the state.
The Kebbi commissioner for education, Muhammad Aliero, said this while addressing journalists after UNICEF’s media dialogue on Cash Transfers for Improvement of Girls’ Enrolment in Schools on Wednesday in Kebbi.
Kebbi is one of the states with the highest number of out-of-school children in the country.
UNICEF, through its Educate A Child (EAC) programme, is targeting over 501,749 out-of-school children in four Northern Nigerian states with the highest number of such children.
The EAC was introduced as a funding window aimed at reducing the number of out-of-school children in Katsina, Kebbi, Sokoto and Zamfara states by 2020.
PREMIUM TIMES reported how a Cash Transfer Programme official, Isah Usman, on Monday said Kebbi and Zamfara states are considered as ‘educationally disadvantaged’ states in Nigeria.
Despite the fact that primary education is free and compulsory, there is still a high number of out-of-school children.
Also, the Demographic Health Survey (DHS) conducted in 2015 by UNICEF and the Nigerian government has shown that the population of these children in Nigeria has risen from 10.5 million to 13.2 million.
The results have not been officially released.
However, the commissioner said there is a usual influx of foreigners into the state during this time of the year.
According to him, “Kebbi is ‘bordering’ two countries; I mean the Republic of Niger and Benin. Around this time, there’s a lot of influx of their children for greener pasture in the country.
“Last two years, the governor saw two trucks filled with children of various school ages. So the governor stopped them and they said they were going to Zaria. Two big trucks from Niger Republic. When it is the rainy season, you won’t see them. They would have gone back for farming,” he said.
When asked how the state controls its borders, the commissioner said: ”we are all the same family and we’ll see what we can do by making arrangements with traditional rulers.
“In our state, we identified over 800,000 pupils, not in school. But during the rainy season, they were about 400,000 to 500,000. Then we discovered that the influx from Niger Republic and Benin Republic is the cause,” he said.
Cash Transfer Programme
The commissioner said the CTP intervention by UNICEF has increased attendance in schools in Kebbi.
”Before the cash transfer programme, only a few schools had full attendance but now, enrolment had increased in the three local government s that enjoyed the programme,” he said.
He said the number of out-of-school children “will be very low” by 2020.
”Currently, Kebbi State spends N280 million on feeding. We have built 40 nomadic schools. We have identified 504 Almajiri Islamic schools. We will make necessary renovation for them and we will make sure that we send Mathematics and English teachers to them,” he said.
Similarly, the Kebbi State coordinator of youth empowerment, Usman Buhari, said the social programme is targetted at poor and vulnerable households.
”There are people in Kebbi who do not require social intervention support but because of one connection or the other, they get the opportunities. For example, many people that are not indigenes want to see how they can also benefit,” he said.
He said the state government is planning to introduce more interventions after the UNICEF cash transfer programme.