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HomeNewsKaduna State: Social Protection Intervention For Out-Of-School Children, An Urgent Imperative

Kaduna State: Social Protection Intervention For Out-Of-School Children, An Urgent Imperative

By Yusuf Ishaku Goje

That Kaduna State is currently bedeviled by a learning crisis characterized by schooling and learning deprivation is common knowledge. In admitting this fact, the Governor of the State, Senator Uba Sani, who quoted 680,000 as the number of out-of-school children, lamented the situation when he played host to senior citizens and elders at the Sir Kashim Ibrahim House. UNICEF equally raised another alarm during a visit to the Governor that more than 60% of children in the State suffer from acute malnutrition.

In addition, the Multidimensional Poverty Index Survey (NBS, 2022) shows that the State is among the 4 States where over one-quarter of poor children under 5 live. For a State with a high dependency rate, with 49% of its population being below 14 years old, the situation cannot be more desperate. Especially, at a time when households’ incomes are being eroded by inflation (food), depreciating value of the naira, high out-of-pocket expenditure on health (84.9%), loss of livelihood leading to unemployment, insecurity etc.

The crisis before us is that of learning poverty. It is the inability of children, by age 10 or latest by the end of Primary School, to read and understand a short, age-appropriate text. In 2023, the State Bureau of Statistics with support of AGILE Project and PLANE Programme conducted a Learning Poverty Research using the Learning Poverty Indicator to measure how children attain a minimum proficiency level (MPL) in reading at the end of primary school.

Disturbingly, the learning outcome assessment showed that 74.3%, 63.3% and 45.1% of Primary 4 and 6 children, and JSS1 students respectively had scored below the minimum proficiency level (MPL) in English EGRA. This is no surprise as the Annual School Census (2021/2022) report showed pupil-teacher ratio for public Primary Schools was 73. While that of public junior secondary schools was 46. Furthermore, the census showed pupil-classroom ratio for public Primary Schools stood at 101; while the pupil-classroom ratio for public JSS stood at 96.

Likewise, the Kaduna State General Household Survey by the (KDBS, 2020) shows that 535,353 children within the primary school age are out of school; while 233,386 children within the junior secondary school age are out of school (using population projection of 2006 census from National Population Commission). This comes to a total estimation of 768,739 OOSC at the basic level of education (Basic 1 to 9) in the State, above the number quoted by the Governor.

Commendably, the State Out-Of-School Children (OOSC) Mapping report (KDBS, 2022) shows that 152,485 out-of-school children were identified and registered across all the 23 LGA. Interestingly, 87.9 percent (134,186) of the parents/guardians of these registered OOSC children desired for them to be enrolled in school while 12.1 percent (18,298) showed no interest in ensuring their children were enrolled in school.

The report provides data for effective planning for social protection interventions as it showed that 73.7 percent of the parents/guardians are farmers, 14.5 percent are traders, 8.2 percent are unemployed, 2.7 percent artisan while less than 1 percent are civil servants. 59.8 percent of the parents/guardians are not formally educated while 19.8 percent completed primary education. Interestingly, a cursory look at the 2024 capital budget by project shows there are zero allocations to the seven budget line items on out-of-school children under the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB).

Therefore, it is imperative for the State to adopt the World Bank’s RAPID Framework recommendation to, “reach every child and keep them in school: use back-to-school campaigns, family outreach and early warning systems, elimination of school fees, cash transfers (CT), and school feeding programmes (SFP) to keep children in school.” As a result there is the urgent need to harmonize the OOSC mapping database with the State’s social register – which should be the one-stop-shop for all social protection interventions.

While the State government has made basic education free in public schools and back-to-school campaigns are ongoing – though not adequate enough, it is imperative to ensure the inclusion of the parents/guardians of these mapped OOSC in the Conditional Cash Transfer scheme. This will provide the incentive for them to allow their children to go to school instead of supporting family income. Even though the school feeding programme might be unsustainable for now due to limited fiscal space, the government should consider innovative funding mechanisms such as agriculture produce-for-tax initiative to provide nutritious food to retain the children in school.

Goje is an active citizen and a volunteer with the Coalition of Associations for Leadership, Peace, Empowerment & Development (CALPED) and Kaduna Local Government Accountability Mechanism (KAD-LGAM).

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