By Emmanuel Elebeke
The Federal Government has expressed its readiness to intensify efforts in addressing the menace of out-of-school children in the country.
The move was sequel to the call made by two civil society groups, Connected Development and FlexiSAF Foundation on Federal Government to urgently tackle the accelerating number of out-of-school children in Nigeria.
In a statement from the CSOs on Tuesday made available to Vanguard, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education, Mr Sonny Echono, acknowledged a lack of factual data in the country as a stumbling block to planning and stated that in the last four years, the Ministry had worked with partners to find empirical means of getting the actual figures right and devise the best ways of reducing the number of out-of-school children to the barest minimum.
Connected Development and FlexiSAF Foundation had raised alarm over the increasing number of out-of-school children, and the detrimental effect it has on the future of Nigeria.
According to the partners, issues of insurgency, conflicts and unrest in the country, combined with deep-rooted poverty, and certain cultural factors especially in Northern Nigeria, have led to an increase in the number of out-of-school children.
Mr Echono assured that the Ministry is working in partnership with the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), the National Population Commission (NPC), and the Bureau of Statistics to tackle the growing number of children between ages five and 12 that are not in school.
CODE’s Chief Executive, Hamzat Lawal, stated that he is pleased that the Federal Government is seeking to address this menace, adding that the future of Nigeria is strongly determined by the quality of education of its children.
Lawal expressed worry that out-of-school children were constantly being exposed to the danger of violence, assault, exploitation and anti-social recruitments such as terrorism, child-trafficking and kidnapping.
He added that the government’s response is a timely one and must be followed with immediate action that will see to Nigeria attaining Sustainable Development Goal 4 on quality education by 2030.