By Ado Hassan, Sokoto
The United Nations International Children’s Education Fund(UNICEF) has said that Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan are unlikely to meet the 2020 target of education for all children of school age unless a collective practical involvement of stakeholders with political will is encouraged.
According to the agency, ” the number of Out of School Children(OOSC) in Nigeria constitutes 20 percent of the global total and therefore, we have stratas of the Almajiris, girls of school age not enroled, nomadic herdsmen and fishermen children. And those displaced by the insurgency in the northest. If Nigeria gets it right, Africa gets it.”
Speaking weekend at a One-day planning meeting with Media Chiefs as prelude to the flag off for the 2017 National Enrolment and Birth Registration Campaign billed for October, UNICEF’s Official, Mrs Azuka Menkiti said statistical records have shown that over 9 million were in Qur’anic system of education who she pointed out were also considered OOSC.
However, the three countries facing the trend of the challenge top the globe’s ranking with alarming proportion of OOSC, thus are expected to by 2030 all girls and boys of school age should access free education.
According to Menkiti” research has identified more girls than boys are out of school in the north.
“What we are concerned about is equity, fairness and justice for every child of school age. Every child has right to be educated without gendre disparity.
” UNICEF is passionate about children in the North East whose education foundation has been threatened”, She pointed out.
The meeting which has its theme:” For a Better Tomorrow, Enrol Your Child in School Today and Get Free Birth Registration Certificate From the National Population Commission” was organised by the Federal Ministry of Education, Universal Basic Education Commission in collaboration with UNICEF, Nigeria”
The UNICEF Official however, identified socio-cultural norms and practice, religious beliefs, lack of qualified teachers, inadequate infrastructure, poor governance as responsible for denying the child the right to education among other factors.
Similarly, Menkiti while in her brief presentation titled” Objectives, Expected results and rationale for expanded Partnerships, NPopC”, attributed the poor level of enrolment to poverty, distance and parental ignorance on the benefits of educating their wards.
On the birth registration, UNICEF noted that 70 percent of Nigeria’s children were not registered, stressing the need for data and records on early childhood population to determine the size for adequate and responsive planning for children education through active partnership” Nigeria has the highest number of both absolute birth and child population with a projected figure of 136 million babies to be born between now and 2030. Also, from 2031until mid-century, ther will be 224 million more.”
The agency also noted that access to basic services by those not registered at birth were subject to threats, adding” eligibility to health care, admission among others which are critical to child survival will remain a mirage.”
Accordingly, the agency noted that the media was a veritable component in the partnership collaboration towards achieving the goals of ensuring birth registration as key to successful child enrolment in school.
Also,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 added” 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.
However, the Official said other strategic approaches include; advocacy, collaboration with traditional and religious leaders, social mobilization, community engagement and interpersonal communication.
” We will influence positive political will where each legislator will influence the enrolment of 100 children into school at the annual National Enrolment Week”, he outlined.
However, media chiefs and representatives from Electronic(Radio/TV), Print and Online publishers were drawn as participants from across 10 states from the north including Ebonyi at the meeting held in Kaduna.