*Nigeria losing out on literate, skilled workforce, says UNICEF
THE Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) will be disbursing N142.58 billion to support educational growth in states, Minister of Education Malam Adamu Adamu said yesterday.
Adamu spoke in Kaduna at the opening of a two-day Northern Nigeria Traditional Leaders Conference on Out-of-School Children.
The conference was organised by Federal Ministry of Education, Universal Basic Education Commission, National Commission for Mass Education and Sultan Foundation for Peace and Development, in collaboration with United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
He also said the World Bank had between 2016 and now issued $611 million credit facility to support states with higher number of out-of-school children.
“The Federal Government had equally deducted N71.292 billion from Paris Club Refund, as outstanding UBEC counterpart fund owed by states as at August 2018.
“Such financial support to state through UBEC and Tertiary Education Trust Fund and other initiatives would be sustained,” he said.
Adamu called on relevant stakeholders to join hands in tackling the root causes of out-of-school children.
“We must provide our children with the needed knowledge and skills to realise their potentials and contribute to the development of our dear nation,” he added.
The minister thanked the northern traditional leaders and relevant stakeholders for coming together to express collective commitment to addressing the phenomenon of out-of-school children.
Kaduna State Governor Nasir El-Rufai also expressed concern on the increasing number of out-of-school children in the North.
According to him, a collective commitment of the stakeholders would go a long way in turning the disturbing educational indices in the North and the country at large.
El-Rufai, who was represented by Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Prof. Kabiru Mato, said his administration is working to address the situation in the state.
Deputy Secretary General, Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs Prof. Salisu Shehu called for adequate funding to the education sector, and more sensitisation of parents and care-givers to send their children to school.
Chairperson, House of Representatives Committee on Electoral and Political Party Matters Dr. Aishatu Dukku noted that much needed to be done given the state of education in the North.
Dukku, a former education minister, said engaging traditional leaders was key to encouraging people to embrace Islamic and western education in the region.
Nigeria is losing out on a literate and skilled workforce it needs to grow economically due to huge number of out-of-school children, according to UNICEF.
Deputy Representative UNICEF Nigeria Pernille Ironside said the Federal Ministry of Education and other government records put the figure of out-of-school children aged 6-14 at 10.5 million.
“Other sources say the number of out-of-school children is higher, but the focus should not be on the precise number, but on boys and girls in communities, who lose out on education and better livelihoods.
“The affected children lose out on hope and the future they can have for themselves, their families, their communities and their country.
“Nigeria needs to leap frog to bring more children into education and into learning through partnerships and collective actions,” he said.
UBEC Executive Secretary Dr. Hamid Bobboyi described the menace of out-of-school children in Northern Nigeria as a catastrophe to the growth and survival of the region.
Bobboyi, who was represented by Deputy Executive Secretary Services Dr. Yakubu Gambo, also said the situation was a cancerous phenomenon, which if not addressed, would lead to the collapse of the entire region.
He assured participants of UBEC commitment in pursuing any agenda that targets the eradication of the out-of-school children menace and advance educational growth.
Dr. Sa’ad Abububakar III, the Sultan of Sokoto said children education was the foundation for economic growth of any society.
Abubakar identified the contribution of traditional leaders as key in the struggle towards providing qualitative and functional education to children, particularly in the northern part of the country.
He called for a change of attitude by parents and urged relevant stakeholders to live up to their responsibilities of educating their children.