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Too many Nigerian youths left behind despite progress, says UNICEF


United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has lamented that despite measures put in place to benefit Nigerian children and young people, many are still being left behind especially in the area of education.

UNICEF Country Representative in Nigeria, Peter Hawkins, who disclosed this at the maiden edition of “Naija Youth Talk”, organised by the organisation to commemorate the International Literacy Day, said Nigeria has the world’s highest number of out- of- school children.

Speaking on the theme, ‘Nigeria we want,’ Hawkins who was represented by UNICEF Chief of Basic Education, Dr. Euphrates Efosie, said Nigeria’s youth bulge is one of the largest in the world, pointing out that out of a population of 200 million, more than 64 million persons are in the 15 to 35-year age bracket.

“It is easy to see this as a challenge to national development and it can be, if not properly managed and harnessed. Young people today live in a world of unlimited potentials. However, despite gains in the situation facing Nigerian children and young people in recent years, much remains to be done. Too many Nigerian children and young people are being left behind, especially when it comes to education. Nigerian children are not in school.”

She stressed that UNICEF and partners want to build on the momentum of young people as they commemorate the 30th anniversary of the convention on the Rights of the Child this year and keep youths at the centre of the debate.

“The Naija Youth Talk, focusing on the Nigeria We Want, will allow young people to reflect on and celebrate the progress made by the youth to create the Nigeria we all desire as well as to build momentum and support for further action. This event is part of UNICEF’s global youth talks where young people come together to discuss and proffer solutions to crucial issues facing them and their peers.

“Environment that favours empowerment, entrepreneurship, employment and employability for young persons is what we need today. The Nigeria we want is a clarion call by young Nigerians who want to see a different Nigeria going forward. In the education sector, our young people want a system with good learning outcomes, where a child with nine years of basic education could read and write and have excellent numeracy skills. Young people want an education that is functional, equipping them with skills to compete in the highly technical global market place,” she added.


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