Sultan, UNICEF, UBEC Resolve on Collective Action over Increase of Out-of- School Children in Northern Nigeria


Sultan, UNICEF, UBEC Resolve on Collective Action over Increase of Out-of- School Children in Northern Nigeria

Zainab Tanimu

Kaduna, North-West, NIGERIA

Concern has been raised on the increase of Out -of- School Children in northern Nigeria.

Nigeria needs to take a leap frog to bring more children into education and into learning. Partnerships and collective actions therefore are  essential to achieving this goal.

This concern was expressed by relevant stakeholders present during the Northern Nigeria Traditional Leaders Conference held on Wednesday 10th October, 2018 at Murtala square Kaduna.

The Sultan of Sokoto, Alh. Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar lll acknowledged  the fact that Northern Nigeria contributed large number of Out-of-School Children  from the total figure of 13.5 million of Out-of-School Children in Nigeria.

According to him, Nigeria does not lack solutions and recommendations to her problems but that the problem has always been that of ‘will to implement recommendations’.

While calling for collective action to salvage the situation, the Sultan had expressed hope for the positive implementation of decisions taken at the end of the conference.

“This conference must not go the way others have gone in the past. Collective coming together of all of us is needed. Political leaders should be on the same page with us”. He emphasized.

Speaking, the Deputy Representative, UNICEF Nigeria, Pernille Ironside said that the Federal Ministry of Education (FME), Education for Change: A Ministerial Strategic Plan states that Nigeria has 10.5 million children aged 6-14 out of school which is of great concern. Other sources however said the number is higher.

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Lamenting,  Pernille Ironside said,  “the focus is not the precise number of out-of-school  ; the focus should be on boys and girls in your communities who lose out on education, lose out of livelihoods, lose out on hope and the future they can have for themselves, their families, their communities and their country.

Expatiating further, “When we speak of Out-of-School Children, who are they? It is too easy to keep them nameless and faceless.

“Nigeria loses out on a literate and skilled workforce it needs to grow economically. She said.

“ The latest Mics data tells us that 69% of out-of-school children in Nigeria are in northern states. Bauchi has the highest number of out-of-school children -1.1 million and Katsina comes in second with 781,500 children out of school.

“This is the reason why we are here today at the Northern Nigeria Traditional Leaders Conference on Out-of School Children. Together we can take the quantum leap to give more children the opportunity to go to and stay in school”. She stated.

Also raised is the worries that more than half of the primary school age girls are out of school in the North-West and North-East geopolitical zones of Nigeria of which poverty has been identified to be one of the major causative factors.

Nigeria needs to remain committed to the 1999  declaration to provide free basic education for all children. The right to education equally enshrined in the constitution of Nigeria. UNICEF reminded.

Speaking,  the Executive Secretary Universal Basic Education Commission, UBEC, Hamid Bobboyi  drew attention to the immediate need to addressing the lingering issue  in order that the educational system can be saved from total collapse.

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Expressing regrets he said, “It is a source of worry and concern that the Northern Nigeria which hitherto had standing history for educational pursuit and development is today scornfully looked down upon nationally and being pitied by the International Community for lack of educational development and fervid poverty”.

Bobboyi said there is the need for attitudinal change.  “It is in the North that majority of the socio-cultural barriers to formal schooling have found a seemingly permanent dwelling place:

Early marriage, especially of girls; pervading almajirai’ all over the northern streets; child labour; negative parental attitudes towards education of their children and wards; are issues of worries. He said.

“The North has to wake up on a long deep sleep. The world is moving fast with science and technology and the other parts of Nigeria are struggling to catch-up with the rest of the world through their children education, but the north is wobbling and being drawn back by wrong perceptions of what constitute education and its true value in human and national development.

Almajiri system he said should not be mistaken for Out- of- School –Children.  “So that we can shape a context of what we mean by Out-of School Children”. He stressed.