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Nigerian govt says out-of-school children now 6.9m



Nigerian govt says out-of-school children now 6.9m

The Federal Government on Thursday said Nigeria’s out-of-school-children have dropped to 6.946 million, from 10.1 million.

The government claimed that 3,247,590 children who were not in school were enrolled within a year and seven months due to several activities undertaken by the Federal Ministry of Education.

Although the government did not state the activities it undertook in 2020 to reduce the number, but the 2018 National Personnel Audit conducted by the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) for the nation’s primary schools, showed that Nigeria had about 10,193,918 out-of-school kids with many concentrated in the North, mostly almajiri.

Addressing reporters Thursday during a ministerial media briefing to highlight the achievements of the Ministry of Education in 2020, Education Minister Adamu Adamu said the government had secured a credit facility of $611 million from the World Bank to support Universal Basic Education (UBE) in 17 states.

He said: “On May 21, 2019, in what I termed my valedictory media briefing, I told you that my greatest regret then was our inability to bring down the number of out-of-school-children to a manageable/barest minimum.

“Under the initiative of the Better Education Service Delivery For All (BESDA), the Federal Government secured a World Bank credit facility of $611,000,000 to support 17 states of the federation in strengthening UBE as well as the first pillar of the Ministerial Strategic Plan (MSP) on out-of-school-children.

“As at today, we have recorded impressive school enrollment figures in 17 states of the federation where BESDA is being implemented. I can, however, tell you that through the BESDA initiative, we have reduced the figure of out-of-school-children by 3.247,590, as of December 31, 2020.

“This is made up of 1,792,833 through formal schools, while 1,454,757 are through non-formal interventions, such as Almajiri, Girl-Child Nomadic and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), as confirmed by the National Population Commission (NPC) and National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).”

According to him, 1,792,833 children were enrolled through formal schools, while 1,454,757 children were captured through non-formal interventions.

Of these figures, the National Association of Proprietors and School Owners of Nigeria (NAPSON) alone, led to the enrollment of over 1 million OSC with each private school sponsoring five students, the minister said.

Also, enrollment programmes were said to have been carried out in Benue, Nasarawa and Zamfara states, he added.

A breakdown of the enrollment figures of 3.247,590 for boys and girls per states are: Adamawa, 25,714; Bauchi, 83,391; Borno, 62,336; Ebonyi, 65,471; Gombe, 52, 600; Jigawa, 47,616; Kaduna, 39,091; Kano, 302,434 and Katsina, 26,555.

Others, the minister said, are: Kebbi, 25,556; Niger, 73,568; Oyo, 40,007; Rivers, 22,782; Sokoto, 71,000; Taraba, 24,246; Yobe, 72,000 and Zamfara, 19,005.

Adamu, who was hopeful that more OSCs would be enrolled this year, explained that $500 million loan was secured from World Bank credit facility to drive the Adolescent Girls Initiative for Learning and Empowerment (AGILE) programme.

This, the minister said, would ensure that girls are taken off the streets, trained and empowered to live normal and quality lives.

He also said 900,000 Nigerians were “taken off the shelve” of adult illiterates in 2020, adding that there were plans to develop an instrument to stop out-of-school-children by making it an offence for any adult not to undertake any form of learning.

“The phenomenon of adult illiteracy is equally disturbing. The children of illiterate parents are 80 per cent more likely to be out of school. Attention has, therefore, been given to the adult and mass literacy sub-sector in the last one year.

“In 2019, we were able to reach and train millions of Nigerians on basic literacy and numeracy across 14 states while 900,000 have been taken off that bracket in 2020. In the last two years, 1,900,000 illiterate Nigerians have been able to read and write either English or the three Nigerian languages through this effort. Our target of three million could not be reached due to the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Adamu said.