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13 million out-of-school children will scuttle national development— Group

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The Executive Director of Teenage Network, Olanike Timipa-Uge, yesterday, warned that the rising number of out-of-school children in the country would scuttle the nation’s prosperity, as well as the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) globally.

She spoke in Abuja during the flag- off ceremony of the School In My Community Initiative for adolescent girls in commemoration of the International Day Of The Girl Child.

Timipa-Uge said a country that had more than 13 million out-of-school children before the COVID-19 pandemic could not afford to have more girls drop out of school.

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She said: “According to the Malala Fund, more than 20 million secondary school-age girls may not return to school after the pandemic, as a result of a total loss of interest in learning, child marriage, teenage pregnancy and child labour.

“As we all know, the world has been battling the COVID-19 pandemic for more than six months. Although everyone has been affected by the pandemic in one way or the other, adolescent girls are worst hit.

“As schools prepare to re-open, we are calling on the Nigerian government to ensure that nothing stops girls from returning. We also urge parents to give the girl child sexual and reproductive education. When girls are educated, they change the world….”

She disclosed that the Teenage Network would commence classes for 60 selected adolescent girls, who have been offered a scholarship to participate for eight weeks.

“The School In My Community Project is designed to bridge the learning gap by creating learning opportunities for adolescent girls during and after COVID-19 era. The first edition would be held in Nyanya and Kukwaba communities…

“Finally, the school will serve as a safe space, where girls can interact and receive support on issues relating to their sexual and reproductive health,” she said.

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