Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan may not meet the 2020 target of education for children of school age unless a collective involvement of stakeholders with political will is encouraged, the United Nations International Children’s Education Fund (UNICEF) has said.
The UN agency said: “The number of Out of School Children (OOSC) in Nigeria constitutes 20 per cent of the global total and therefore, we have strata of the Almajiris, girls of school age not enrolled, nomadic herdsmen and fishermen children. And those displaced by the insurgency in the Northeast.
“If Nigeria gets it right, Africa gets it.”
A UNICEF official, Mrs. Azuka Menkiti, spoke at the weekend in Kaduna at a one-day planning meeting with journalists as a prelude to the flag off of 2017 National Enrolment and Birth Registration Campaign slated for October.
The meeting was themed: “For a better tomorrow, enrol your child in school today and get free birth registration certificate from the National Population Commission (NPC)”.
It was organised by the Federal Ministry of Education and Universal Basic Education Commission in collaboration with UNICEF, Nigeria.
Mrs. Menkiti, in her presentation, titled: “Objectives, expected results and rationale for expanded partnerships, NPopC”, said statistical records showed that over nine million were in Qur’anic system of education, who she noted were also considered OOSC.
She said the three countries facing the challenge topped the global ranking with alarming proportion of OOSC.
The UNICEF official added that girls and boys of school age in Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan are expected by 2030 to access free education.
According to Mrs. Menkiti, research identified more girls as being out of school than boys in the North.
“What we are concerned about is equity, fairness and justice for every child of school age. Every child has a right to be educated without gender disparity.
“UNICEF is passionate about children in the Northeast, whose education foundation has been threatened,” she said.
The UNICEF official, however, identified socio-cultural norms and practice, religious beliefs, lack of qualified teachers, inadequate infrastructure and poor governance as responsible for denying the child the right to education among other factors.
Mrs. Menkiti attributed the poor level of enrolment to poverty, distance and parental ignorance on the benefits of educating their wards.
Representative of the Federal Ministry of Education Mr. Elisha Francis, who spoke on the Federal Government’s framework on enrolment, said the first tier of government had designed a responsive drive to reaching out to OOSC for integration into the formal school system through effective campaign implementation drive at all levels.
Francis said: “The drive would consider parental demand for education, influence of change of attitude, inherent benefits, promote equity in basic education delivery, stakeholders participation as well facilitate Nigeria’s attainment of education related SDGs”.
SOURCE: THE NATION