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Senate seeks new strategies to tackle of out-of-school children menace

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Senate seeks new strategies to tackle of out-of-school children menace

The Senate has urged the Federal Ministry of Education and its agencies, as well as other stakeholders to jointly evolve new strategies to effectively deal with issue of out-of-school children in Nigeria.

Senate resolution, followed adoption of a motion on “Compelling need to tackle the challenge of out-of-school children in Nigeria”,  at plenary on Wednesday.

The motion was sponsored by Sen. Oluranti  Adebule (APC-Lagos).

Adebule said that the  issue of out-of-school children had become worrisome, given the 2022 report of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) that about 20 million Nigerian children were out of school.

This, she said represented 10 per cent of the estimated Nigerian population of 200 million people and also represents the highest number of out-of-school children from any country globally.

She, however, noted that the ministry of education had since disputed the figure.

“It is a general belief that whatever the real figures on out-of-school children are, has become a challenge on the Nigerian state that must be dealt with as a matter of urgency.”

She said the social impacts of having about 20 million out-of-school children on the Nigerian state was an impediment to achieving some of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

According to her, it is resulting into lack of inclusiveness and equitable quality of education and promotion of lifelong learning opportunities for all.

“The issue will provide for easy recruitment into criminal gangs, banditry and terrorism which are the biggest security issues the Nigerian state has been dealing with for many years.”

She said, in the past, successive administrations made several efforts to deal with out-of-school children menace, saying that the last effort was deployment of home-grown school feeding programmes by the Muhammadu Buhari administration.

She, however, said the programme had little impact on the surging number of out-of-school children.

According to her, there is need to evolve a new thinking and more aggressive strategies to deal with the menace.

She expressed belief that when all the institutions concerned are committed to their responsibilities, the menace of out-of-school children will be subdued, saying that the situation is a concern to the Federal Government.

Similarly, Sen. Mohammed Monguno (APC- Borno) said the motion was important, adding that all efforts should be made to ensure that the children are enrolled in schools to avoid challenge of recruiting them into banditry and terrorism.

Sen. Ahmed Lawan (APC- Yobe) said the issue of out-of-school children was a social and security issue as well as a major challenge to development of Nigeria.

According to him,  the number of out-of-school children could be within the region of 40 million.

He said that efforts must be deliberately made to get the children back to school and prepare them for leadership, noting that global development may be eluding Nigeria with issues of out-of-school children.

Also, Sen. Adams Oshiomhole (APC- Edo) said every Nigerian child needs to be enrolled in school, given the importance of education to eradication of poverty.

He urged the appropriate agencies of government to publish the actual statistics of out-of school-children and steps taken by state governments to address the issues.

President of the Senate, Godswill Akpabio, in his remarks commended the sponsor for the motion, saying that opportunities would have been given to many Nigerian children, if attention was paid by various governments both state and local governments in the past.

The Senate in its further resolution mandated its Committee on Education (Basic and Secondary) to engage the Federal Ministry of Education and pay attention to the issue of out-of-school children with ultimate objective of drastically reducing the number.

It called for measures to rekindle the national consciousness through sensitisation and advocacy on the importance of education to the growth and development of Nigeria and the benefits of having majority educated population.

It urged for a time limit of two years for the diligent implementation of the Universal Basic Education (UBE) Act.

It also urged government at all levels to implement targeted intervention programmes that will address all the factors militating against free access to quality and basic education,  particularly multidimensional poverty and insecurity.

Senate equally urged the Judiciary in the 36 states of the federation to take steps toward setting up mobile courts for the enforcement of the UBE Act.

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