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Out-of-school children’s figure drops, says minister

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The Federal Government has said that the number of Out-of-School Children (OSC) in the country has reduced from 13.2 million to 10.2million, following various interventions of the government and development partners.Minister of Education, Prof. Adamu Adamu, made the disclosure at the 12th edition of the Ministerial Press Briefing on the OSC Phenomenon, held in Abuja, yesterday.

Adamu, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Mr. Sonny Echono, said conflicting figures of out-of-school children were being given, ranging from 10 to 13 million.According to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), the ministerial strategic plan states that Nigeria has 10.5 million children, aged six to 14, out of school, but a recent Demographic Health Survey (DHS) showed that the population of out of school children in the country has risen from 10.5 million to 13.2 million.

According to Adamu, the reasons adduced for this unfortunate phenomenon include, though not limited to, financial incapacitation, violent conflicts and ignorance on the part of parents/guardians, adding that lack of political will to confront the ugly phenomenon, socio-cultural complexities, distance to schools, physically challenged children, child labour, migration and orphanage were other challenges of the OSC.

He listed the most endemic states of the OSC to include Kano, Akwa Ibom, Katsina, Kaduna, Taraba, Sokoto, Yobe, Zamfara, Oyo, Benue, Jigawa and Ebonyi, stating that the administration was concerned about how to find an empirical means of getting the figures right and the best ways of reducing the number to the barest minimum.

“In the last four years, therefore, we have been making efforts to determine the exact number of out-of-school children. However, the good news is that the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) and other stakeholders have been working towards this common goal of determining the number of children of school age, who are not in school.“Similarly, UBEC, the World Bank, United Nations International Children Education Fund (UNICEF) and other development partners are collaborating to reduce the number of out-of-school children.

“For now, based on the recently conducted National Personnel Audit of both public and private schools, Nigeria has an estimated out of school children population of 10,193,918,” he said.Adamu explained that the ministry has, however, encountered some challenges in a bid to reduce the number of OSC, such as inadequate security due to banditry/insurgency, misconceptions about the value of education and slow implementation of UBEC programmes by States Universal Basic Education Boards (SUBEBs), low draw down of matching grant by SUBEBs, inadequate funds for special education, inadequate grassroots needs assessment before project execution and wrong location of projects.

He explained that the ministry, in collaboration with the National Mass Adult and Non-Formal Education Commission, had also developed a template to capture the OSC within the space of the next five years, noting: “We have sent out our team to countries like Pakistan and Indonesia that have similar issues with Nigeria and find a way they were able to overcome it.

“We have also carried out advocacy and sensitisation programmes on monitoring and mentoring of School Based Management Committees (SBMCs) on school governance in 36 states and FCT.“Steps are being taken, under UBEC, to construct 2,493 new classroom, 2,457 VIP toilets, 19 laboratories, 91 boreholes, 1,266 renovated classrooms and procured 192,985 pupils and 10,038 teachers’ furniture,” the minister said.He assured that these interventions would further reduce the number of OSC in the country.


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Sonny EchonoUNICEF
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