…As group seeks equal access to education for children
By Ebunoluwa Sessou
A non-governmental organization, Christian Aid Nigeria has called for equal access to education especially for the most marginalized children in the country saying out-of-school children, disabled among others in rural communities are prone to marginalization and denied access to adequate education in the country.
In commemoration of this year’s International Day of the African Child with the theme, Access to a Child-Friendly Justice System in Africa” Programme Officer and Communications, Christian Aid Nigeria, Adebola Adeeko explained that, almost 3 decades after, and despite the policies and actions that government at national and state levels have put in place to ensure universal basic education, an uninterrupted access to 9-year formal education by providing free, and compulsory basic education for every Nigerian child of school-going age, the most current statistics shows that over 13 million children in Nigeria are out-of-school.
The Day of the African Child was first commemorated in 1991 as a day to remember those who lost their lives in the struggle for equal access to education and to this day, serves as a day to raise awareness of the issues that African children face in accessing education.
X-raying the issue particularly in two states in Nigeria, Anambra and Kaduna, Adeeko explained that the research conducted by some organizations including Evidence and Collaboration for Inclusive Development, ECID, programme, a new DFID-funded programme and implemented by Christian Aid in partnership with other local Civil Society Organisations shows that of those who prioritised education across the 2 states, only 25% find it accessible.
She said: “While Anambra state has quite a high literacy rate and rate of school enrollment, especially in comparison with Kaduna State, those in hard-to-reach and rural locations experiences some of the same barriers that those in Kaduna State experience.
“Some of these issues include financial constraints leading to an inability to pay the high cost of school levies, insufficient number of teachers, classrooms, basic teaching and learning materials, equipment or other facilities such as toilets as well as the limited provisions for People with Disabilities.
“Early marriage, enrolment in Islamic schools rather than conventional schools and stigmatization of People with Disabilities were key barriers identified in Kaduna, while distance of secondary schools and lack of school buses for pupils/students’ use were raised in Anambra State.
“The funding challenges because of timely budget releases and the consequent negative impact on the implementation of policy are acknowledged.
“For instance, peculiar issues that children in riverine areas and remote parts of Anambra face are not recognised by the school calendar despite having significant challenges in physically accessing school structures every raining season”, she lamented