Out-of-school children

By Adesina Wahab

THE United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, UNESCO, recently put the number of out-of-school children, OSC, in the country at over 20 million, while the Universal Basic Education Commission, UBEC, has said the figure is just a little over 10 million.

UNESCO figure covers people in the age bracket six to 18 years, that is people who ought to be in primary one to senior secondary school three.

The UBEC figure is for ages six to 11. Whatever the statistics one works with, one fact therein is that Nigeria’s figure is the highest in the world.

Efforts are being made to reduce the figure and get as many OSC as possible back to school. It was in the light of this that UBEC, few days ago, held a four-day training workshop in Lagos for chairmen of State Universal Basic Education Boards from the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT.

Speaking on the occasion, the Executive Secretary of UBEC, Dr. Hamid Bobboyi, urged  state governors to sustain the tempo of basic education in their various states to ensure pupils get quality education and charged SUBEB chairmen to address the issues of corruption, lack of furniture and quality teachers.

The UBEC boss also stressed the need to restrategise to enhance better service delivery, saying the commission is working with SUBEB to reduce the number of out-of-school children who are mainly found in the North.

According to him, statistics from UBEC indicates that out-of-school children from ages six to 11 decreased from 10.2 to 9.6 million between 2018 and 2021 and have been projected to reduce further to 9.5 million in 2022.

He observed that global data on out-of-school children between ages six and 18 years released by UNESCO, shows that Nigeria now has about 20 million out-of-school children. He noted that people do not understand the nature and  how UNESCO arrived at the figure of 20 million out-of-school children, stressing: “UNESCO has adopted a new methodology with the Sustainable Development Goals in mind that was used to arrive at the figures that added ages six to 18 years, which is from primary school to senior secondary level, to reach the 20 million mark.

“UBEC has its own statistics and has presented same to UNESCO, which have been validated with figures, and the only thing we need to do is to push and ensure that we reduce the number of out-of-school children in the country.”

Bobboyi called on UBEC, SUBEB and other relevant stakeholders to synergise to move basic education forward in the 36 states and the FCT. “Basic education has its challenges in the country, and we are in a difficult financial situation in the country. The quantity of resources that are available has started to decline and it’s not what it used to be, which is creating some problems.

“With up to 50 million children in basic education from primary to secondary school, various states have been able to at least provide for the pupils in a manner that is commensurate with the resources available, so we must continue to use the tools and resources at our disposal to make sure there is  sustainable improvement in basic education,” the UBEC ES noted.

At the workshop, the Director, System Study and Review Department of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Related Offences Commission, ICPC, Abuja, Mr. Anthony Udofia, urged UBEC, SUBEB and stakeholders to safeguard and manage public resources with integrity and according to relevant laws.

In his paper titled: Accountability and transparency in UBEC Projects and Programmes, Udofia advised chairmen and boards of SUBEB to read and understand anti-corruption laws, especially the Public Procurement Act 2007.

The Bureau of Public Procurement, BPP, in a paper by Mr. Adebowale Adedokun, said what is required are people with good character and fear of God to be in charge, adding: “success is about people. Public interest before personal or political gain.”

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