By Joseph Erunke
ABUJA—THE United Nations Children Education Fund, UNICEF, has said 69 percent of children without access to basic education in Nigeria were from the northern partof the country.
UNICEF Education Specialist, Azuka Menkiti, who stated this while speaking at a two-day media dialogue in Kano yesterday, attributed the development to some obsolete cultural practices and religious misinterpretations in the region.
According to him, the obsolete cultural practices and religious misinterpretations are also responsible for increased poverty in northern Nigeria.
Menkiti also noted that 69 percent of children without access to education in Nigeria were found in streets of northern Nigeria, with North East states leading and North West states trailing behind.
To this end,UNICEF charged political, traditional and community leaders in the region to put more effort to change the statistics as regards number of children without education
She said: “Few weeks ago, we held an education conference in Kaduna and it impressed traditional, community and religious leaders.
“Stakeholders that participated in the meeting signed a commitment to join forces with government and global partners to pull children out of the streets and return them to school so as to secure a peaceful and productive posterity.
“We don’t insist on formal education. It could be Koranic education. But it will be more profitable if they combined both Koranic and formal education. Records indicated that about 9.5 million school age children in Nigeria are currently enrolled Koranic schools across Nigeria but only 24 percent of them combine both formal and Koranic education.”
Recall that the Executive Secretary of Universal Basic Education Commission ,UBEC, Dr. Hamid Bobboyi, recently disclosed that the number of out-of-school children in Nigeria had increased from the 10.5 million it stood before to 13.2 million.
The increase in the figure ,he said,could be attributable to increased attacks and destruction of educational facilities in communities in some North East states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe.
Speaking also at the event, Head of Child Right Information Bureau,CRIB, in the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, Olumide Osayinpeju, said the essence of the media dialogue was to draw attention to implications of uneducated posterity.
“Evidence exists that increased investment in education and protection of the vulnerable citizens, in this case children, and addressing inequality would ensure sustained growth and stability in Nigeria.
“We heed to integrate children, especially those in difficult terrain and other excluded children and ensure equitable distribution of education resources,”she said.