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The rise in out of school children in Nigeria




Bukola Afeni


Sanni is a ten year old boy who hawks pure water in his environment on a daily basis .It was the quest for survival that made him to engage in this petty trade .
“I live in abject poverty on a daily basis ,as my father do not have a regular job.I was just sitting on my own four years ago ,after begging for food with my friends ,and couldn’t get any food to eat ,I started crying profusely and my younger brother joined me ”
“My mother called me and told me that she had discovered a means through which we can survive .My son you have to be courageous  ,as there is no one to help us ,we have no option than to help ourselves ,from today you have to start selling pure water in our neighborhood ,am sure we will not have to beg for food again”
Eight year old Bilkisu sells groundnut as well  ,she hawks in the morning ,rest for a while ,and in the afternoon attend Arabic school ,after coming back ,she will start hawking again till in the evening .
Bilkisu and Sanni are examples of children who contributes to the high number of  out of school children in Nigeria.
The Multiple indicated cluster surveys report (MICS5) report shows that more than a quarter of primary and secondary school age children are out of school (27% and 26% respectively .
The report further highlights that the Northeast region has the highest number of out of school children with 39.8% for primary school children ,and 37.3% for secondary school children .
The UNICEF monitoring and evaluatuon officer ,Mrs Maureen  Okolo disclosed that
Multiple indicated clusters survey report is a recognised and definitive source of information for assessing the situation of children and women in the areas of Health; Nutrition; Water, Sanitation & Hygiene (WASH); Education; Protection; and HIV & AIDS amongst others,in Nigeria as well as in other countries where it is carried out. “The findings of the survey are used for planning, monitoring and decision making on programmes and policies to address issues related to the well-being of children and women in Nigeria”
According to her ,”The data for MICS5 was collected between September 2016 and January 2017 from 33,901 households in 2,239 enumeration areas across the 36 States and Federal Capital Territory. A total of 34,376 eligible women; 28,085 of mothers/caregivers of children under 5 years; and 15,183 men were interviewed using structured questionnaires aided by Computer Assisted Personal Interview (CAPI) devices. This is the largest MICS survey conducted in Africa ”
Experts in the education sector has bemoaned the high number of out of school children in the country ,and seek for a new measure in curbing the trend .
Education specialist and a consultant with The World bank,Mr Adebayo Solomon said the World bank has approved $611 million to support Nigeria in addressing the menace of out of school children .
He disclosed that the measure was to support the federal and state authorities in their effort to foster inclusion and revive growth ,in alignment with the economic recovery and growth plan (ERGP)of the federal government .
According to the education consultant ,the $611 million was meant for the Better education service delivery for all programme (BESDA)to bring the out of school children back to classrooms .
“The programme will improve the literacy skills of the students ,strengthen accountability ,and improve results in basic education .
At the same time ,we will give incentive to any parent that bring their wards to schools ”
In the same vein ,he disclosed that states in the North west and North east has the highest number of out of school children in the country .
“We are planning to bring 3million out of the school children back to school ,through the project  is for a period of five years .The government and development partners is doing all  it’s possible best to reduce the number drastically ”
Similarly ,he stressed the need to carry out annual school census to determine the number of students in each states of the federation .
“We are facing so much challenges as some of the states have not yet bought the idea of carrying out data , and some have not yet priortize the exercise fully.
The states are meant to carry out their data collation exercise ,and verify it before it is being published by the National bureau of statistics ”
“Each state is being given the sum of 100,000 dollars to support the exercise , and ensure that the data is timely .The more the data is published ,the more the funding that is obtained ,and the more accurate the data,the more funding that is obtained ”
The education consultant emphasized the need for each state to be proactive ,and dedicate time for accompanying the goals .
“We are looking forward to a time when all the states will have the information available .
Some of the data are not complete ,some private schools are not ready to partake from the exercise ,and some institutions of government do not give the  right data”
“There is another challenge of ascertaining if the data is truly genuine,there is need to carry out a lot of mobilization exercise to ensure that a large number of the children go out to attend school ”
The minister of education ,Mallam Adamu Adamu said the federal government has shown its commitment towards solving the problem of out of school children ,by improving the school environments ,and making the students to be at ease while studying ,thereby encouraging a good number of them to embrace education .
“We discovered that when youths are not educated or do not have a good source of livelihood ,they are easy prey that can be lured into terrorism and other insurgent activities ”
“When youths are fully engaged or employed ,they won’t imbibe in bad vices ,so it is essential for them to have skills that will pay their bills ”
He therefore advised youth that if they cannot afford to attend a conventional school ,they should seek for creative and innovative skills that will keep them busy and generate revenue .
According to the minister ,we will improve the quality of education from what it is ,to something meaningful and innovative,most especially by reducing the number of out of school children in the Nothern part of the country .
“When the youth have technological skill ,they will be seeking for innovative and creative ways to meet up with global standard ,and set the country on a good pedal .
In line with measures of developing the non formal sector ,the federal government has incorporated stakeholders in the formal and informal sector to develop the Nigerian skills qualification framework .
Mallam Adamu emphasized that the provision of vocational and technical schools will bring about competency in different profession and boost the economy as a whole .
“We will contribute in developing a mobile workforce that is competitive ,and enhance technological development by upgrading to the global standard”
In the same vein ,he disclosed the readiness of the federal government to develop the National Board for Technical education ,and begin to look into the standardization of practices and quality ,so it can be at par in meeting with the present day reality .
He further gave assurance to Nigerians ,that the federal government through the ministry of education will be contributing to the growth of both the formal and informal sector .
Similarly , the minister of education stressed the need for annual census in schools which will ensure reliable data is available ,and will lead to proper planning ,management and administration of schools in Nigeria .
“We have started geo-positioning of schools ,and we hope this will help in getting the exact and accurate number of schools ,and validate the annual school census data collection ”
“We want other states to emulate Imo,Edo,Kogi,and Taraba states ,whose data have already been mapped out and placed on the web address”
The minister is also urging all stakeholders in the education field ,especially head teachers ,and principals ,to accurately complete the census forms allocated for each school ”
“We want the skills gathered during the series of trainings on school records keeping for head teachers and principals ,organized by the federal ministry of education ,and UNICEF in states ,and FCT Last year to be utilized in gathering timely and reliable education data ”
Mallam Adamu also urged data collectors to ensure the information obtained is accurate and apt.
“We want all those involved in the annual school census to take the activity with diligence ,so as to build on the activity recorded last year,so we will know the area to improve upon ”
According to the minister,
“The annual school census cycle signals the simultaneous commencement of the enumeration of all schools ,pupils,teachers ,and facilities in the basic and post basic school levels in the country ,which will be utilized for research ,planning,national and global reporting ”
Similarly ,the minister said the conduct of the annual school census is in line with the provision of the Nigeria Education management information system policy of 2007,which provides for the collection of education data beginning from the school .
“The states conduct the annual school census exercise ,the federal ministry of education through the Nigeria Education Management Information system ,coordinates and monitors the process”
The permanent secretary ministry of education,Architect Sonny Echono said census will help in reducing the out of school children syndrome ,and charged all the states ministry of education to take the annual census exercise serious ,and also generate official basic and post basic education data ,which will automatically make way for every learner’s environment to be accessed,harnessed ,and empirical data obtained for out of school children in Nigeria.
“While leveraging on this result ,guided ,systematic,and comprehensive action would then be taken to solve the hydra headed problem ,of out of school children in Nigeria”
In the same vein,he disclosed that the World bank are already preparing to carry out similar geo-positioning and mapping exercise in some states .
“With all this measures put in place ,we expect more accurate and reliable data during this current census exercise ”
The executive secretary of National board for Technical education ,Dr M Kazaure said said acquiring technical skills will promote advancement within an organisation ,as well as assist career change along with the feeling of personal achievement .
“The promotion of vocational skills will help in providing dignity of Labour , and reduce the quest for blue collar Job ,which had made a large number of people to dislike skill acquisition ”
“It is in line with this mandate that the Nigerian skills qualifications framework was created and developed for the transmission of knowledge and skills acquired by individuals irrespective of religion or tribe ,either on the job or non formally ”
“It recognizes skills and competence and place an individual on a higher level or in cadres in their place of work,it will revise quality assurance ,and develop both the non formal and informal sector “says the Executive secretary of NBTE .
According to him,vocational training will provide evidence of competency in a skill base,which could attract employment ,promotion ,or greater responsibility .
“It promote enterprise development,and help individual to develop along career path stated by the industry .
It gives rooms for recognition among working population and improves outcomes ”
An expert in the education field ,Mr Omon Ogudo,The team lead at BEE Enterprises Limited stated that the down turn of the economy had made some children to resolve into begging ,and selling petty trade in order to meet up with their daily needs
“Survival is now a major issue in the country ,and had turned children into hustlers ,with many on the street,which has led to an increase in the out of school children ”
Speaking further ,he said the high rate of unemployment in the country had made many breadwinner find it hard to cater for their children and wards ,and in the process made some to withdraw from school .
“It is now an uphill task for people to raise their families ,education has not really helped much,people get out of school,get good grades ,and can’t get good and rewarding jobs”
Reacting to the increase in the out of school children in the North eastern part of the country,he disclosed that in some quarters the clamour for Islamic education had made some not to place much emphasis on western education .
Similarly ,he emphasized the need for stakeholders in the education sector to engage in rigorous sensitisation on the need to correct the impression that formal education is not really necessary and, as such subservient to religion.
“We need to encourage the young ones to believe there is significant reward in getting formal education and embrace it as a critical tool for growth and development.
The education expert also stressed the need to create a reward system to compensate young and productive students and scholars,who have been outstanding in the field of learning ,and in the teaching profession .
“In our country today ,there is a big challenge where no one recognizes the effort of scholars but entertainers and other activities that only builds fun activities as against intellectual capabilities”
“We should also appreciate intellectual Nigerians,and create the necessary environment where they can thrive ,and also give them the necessary support .
According to him ,stakeholders in the education sector should create an incentive based learning system that rewards excellent performance of students .
“Students who have performed well overtime can be given scholarship by the government and corporate organisations and well meaning individuals .


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