Pupils of Primary School, Nsukara Offot Uyo, sitting on the floor
Pupils of Primary School, Nsukara Offot Uyo, sitting on the floor

…say out-of-school children numbering 11 to 13 million

By Levinus Nwabughiogu-Abuja

House of Representatives Committee on Basic Education and Services has said that it was an embarrassment to have school children still sitting on bare floor and learning under trees in Nigeria in 21st century.

The Committee also raised an alarm over the increasing number of out-of-school and not-in-school children, placing the number between 11 to 13 million in Nigeria.

The Committee’s regrets were conveyed in a statement jointly signed by the Chairman and deputy Chairman of the Committee, Hon. Julius Ihonvbere and Usman Zanna respectively and made available to Vanguard in Abuja Wednesday night.

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The statement however came on the heels of the 2021 children’s Day marked on May 27 of every  year.

The lawmakers also bemoaned the dilapidated buildings on school premises with the risks they pose to the children, also regretting that lack of water, playgrounds, adequate furniture and toilets in many schools.

The Committee also called on the government to ensure that there was perimeter fencing of the school to ward off strangers and hoodlums around them.

The statement read thus: “The House Committee on Basic Education congratulates Nigerian children on this auspicious day. While we continue to express concern over the fate of our children that are still under captivity and those that have died in the hands of terrorists, bandits and kidnappers, we acknowledge that today gives us room to reflect on the rights of our children to good education, social security, safety, and love.

“Our children have always made us proud. Many, in spite of the challenges in our school system, have excelled in sports, science, the arts, mathematics at regional, national and global competitions. We celebrate them and encourage them never to give up and to inspire their fellow children.

“Today provides an opportunity for governments at all levels to rededicate themselves to the implementation of the Child Rights Act, the Violence Against Women Act, and the growing need to reform, reposition and revamp basic education in Nigeria.

“It is embarrassing, to say the least, that in 2021 we still have children sitting on the floor or learning under trees; that we still have dilapidated buildings on school premises with the risks they pose to our children; and that there are schools without water, playgrounds, adequate furniture and toilets which encourages open defecation.

“It is equally important to note that many of our schools still lack perimeter fencing of any form which ordinarily is the first line of defence for our schools against rampaging kidnappers, ritualists, drug peddlers, hawkers, suicide bombers, and terrorists.

“The Committee believes that governments can address these issues and more through a strategic utilization of budgetary provisions, grants from development partners and the matching grants from the Universal Basic Education Commission.

“We also, on this day, wish to draw attention to the growing numbers of Out of School and Not-in-School children numbering between 11 to 13 million in Nigeria.

“This is an army of potential recruits for the enemies of good governance and democracy. We commend the Federal Government on initiating the Alternate School Programme, as one of its numerous efforts to address this issue. More needs to be done including funding, monitoring and evaluation of the initiatives. States and local governments also have direct responsibility on this challenge especially as all Out-of-School and Not-in-School children live in local governments and states.

“We urge all the agencies in the education sector to continue to retool adequately for a purposeful post-Covid education delivery system for the protection and advancement of our children. Happy children’s to all Nigerian children.”

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