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Out-of-school kids: A disastrous time bomb

By Safiu Kehinde
06 August 2019   |   3:20 am
Gone are those days when the quest to be ranked among the educated elites in the country is our first priority. Farewell to those days when Nigerian parents put their farms and property for sale just to sponsor their child’s education. Long ago, academic success such as graduation, promotion, and scholarship always call for a…

Out-of-school children

Gone are those days when the quest to be ranked among the educated elites in the country is our first priority. Farewell to those days when Nigerian parents put their farms and property for sale just to sponsor their child’s education.

Long ago, academic success such as graduation, promotion, and scholarship always call for a celebration just like wedding anniversary, naming ceremony and another owambe party. We were once a country that holds literacy with high-esteem. We placed so much value on education believing that there is no other profitable asset for the future than being educated. But presently, education in Nigeria has become a lost glory.

The burning passion of then has been quenched. Calamity has befallen our education system, leaving the country’s future in jeopardy as the number of out-of-school kids keeps increasing yearly. Having an encounter with these kids on the streets, highways, and other places they are not meant to be is an indication that the future of this country is at stake.

Apart from insecurity, corruption, economic instability, and other current problems we are facing, prospective mass illiteracy is a big issue that we are not expected to handle lightly.

Apart from being dubbed as the poverty capital of the world, Nigeria has the largest number of out-of-school children in the world. With over 10.2 million out-of-school children (from the Federal Government’s viewpoint), we are now nursing mass illiteracy till years to come. The world around us keeps advancing daily but the world within us keeps deteriorating at an increasing rate.

The future of this country looks bleak and the hope of a brighter tomorrow is gradually withering away. With over 200 million population, 20,496 births per day, and 6398 deaths per day, it is obvious that Nigeria is a youthful population and will still be youthful in years to come.

According to world atlas, Nigeria is ranked 16th with 50.4% among the countries with the highest percentage of population under 18 years old, but with the rate of out-of-school children increasing daily, how do we expect this country to survive in a proposed world where literacy and creativity will be the key to development. Along with this problem come grave consequences that are capable of rendering this nation from its developing status to the league of an under-developed nation.

The first consequence of turning a blind eye to the plight of out-of-school kids is under-development. Just as stated earlier, under-development is the surest thing that will happen in the country when these kids grow. This will be made possible because there is every tendency that only a few educated ones will be saddled with the responsibility of running the country’s administration. There will be excessive resources but only a few brains will be available to manipulate these resources. Many of these illiterates will also have a family, which they will be unable to support.

Thus, the government will bear the responsibility of taking care of the mass illiterates with the country’s revenue. Little room will be given to the thought of how the country will progress. Rather, the possible havoc to be caused by the illiterate populace will be a major concern.

Along with under-development comes an increase in the poverty rate. Since these already matured out-of-school kids can’t live up to the standard of civilization they will take up menial jobs that can’t satisfy their individual needs, lest to talk of their family needs. Their burden will become a liability to the government of the day.

With the possibility of our current population doubling up in years to come, the government will not be able to meet the needs of the less educated populace. The outcome of this will be the country walloping in abject poverty. By then, another worse accolade will be dangling around our neck.

Since they can neither live nor lead a better life, their chance of survival will become slim. And as such, they will become desperate to rise above the poverty line. This act of desperation will lead to an increase in the crime rate. Highway robbery, banditry, money ritual, fraudulence, and all sort of criminal act will be the order of the day. Necessity will force a lot of these illiterate people to commit crimes. Also out of ignorance, illiterate people will unknowingly break the law. Rather than constructing modern infrastructure, prisons will be the major project to be done as more prisons will be needed to keep criminals.

It is always said that an idle hand is the devil’s workshop. The increase in crime rate will occur for no reason other than joblessness. Mass illiteracy will produce massive unemployment. No employee in his right state of mind will employ a school-drop-out even to the lowest position of a clerk. An increase in the unemployment rate will further implicate the growth rate of the country’s GDP. And once our GDP drops, currency devaluation will shrink out precious Naira to the quantum realm.

Though the northern part of Nigeria is the dominant area of out-of-school kids, this social problem is gradually spreading across the western part of the country like a wildfire. School dropouts have started adding to their numbers. The rate of school dropouts is on the increase as most students have lost the zeal to study due to the appalling state of the country’s education sector.

The school has been labeled as “scam”, leaving most students terminating their academic career. With the rise of quick money ventures such as Yahoo Yahoo and the entertainment industry, the perception of the youths about education has changed. They’ve seen less educated people climbing the success ladder and as such believe that education is less relevant in the quest for success.

Prevention is better than cure they do say. The aforementioned consequences can be prevented if the right measures are taken. Firstly, the government should stop allocating leftover of the national cake to education after the bounty must have been shared on large proportion to other sectors. Looking back at 2018 when 7.04% of the national budget was proposed to be allocated to education, it is pretty absurd that such proportion is what investing in our future deserved. Little wonder why most tertiary institutions are poorly equipped with modern facilities. Students were to learn in dilapidated buildings and our primary schools are more or less of a cattle ranch.

Secondly, the government should establish a welfare state. This does not imply that the government should be saddled with the burden of society. Rather, programmes that will be helpful in curbing out-of-school kids from the street can be introduced through the welfare body. Working alongside the welfare state should be the NGOs. Together, they can give the kids and parents a new orientation and encourage the parents to send their children to school.

On a final note, the media should help in creating the awareness of family planning. Out-of-school kids emerge as a result of the incessant increase of birth rate among the lower class people. Lots of them are not financially buoyant, yet they give birth to the score of kids. The media should take up their educative role and enlighten the people around them on how to live within their means.