By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
The Federal Government has restated its commitment to proffering lasting solutions to the challenges posed by the rising number of out-of-school-children across Nigeria.
Special Adviser to the President on Social Investments, Mrs Maryam Uwais disclosed this in Maiduguri, Borno State during the closing ceremony of a 3-week capacity building Programme for Youth facilitators under the Federal Government’s At-Risk-Children Programme, ARC-P in the state.
Mrs Uwais, who listed the objectives of ARC-P to include restoring a life of hope and dignity to millions of street children and vulnerable young people in the country, said the youth facilitators were trained on several skills including basic literacy and numeracy, sports and life skills, vocational and digital skills, mental health, psychosocial support as well as basic monitoring and evaluation.
She said the intensive training exercise was in line with the implementation strategy of the At-Risk-Children Programme organised to empower the youth facilitators with the requisite knowledge and skills that will enable them provide the needed guidance, mentorship and support for the vulnerable children assigned to them.
The Presidential aide disclosed that the 830 youth facilitators trained in Borno would be assigned a minimum of 50 children across the 18 local government areas of the State, noting that more than 41000 street children and vulnerable young people are expected to benefit in the first phase of the Programme in Borno State.
She advised the youth facilitators to approach the assignment with all sense of commitment, hardwork, diligence and patriotism, calling on them to use the knowledge gained from the various training sessions to make a difference in the lives of the primary beneficiaries of the Programme.
Mrs. Uwais in a statement by Bright Eugene, Communications officer, At-Risk-Children Programme, was quoted as saying, “Please do not shirk in your responsibilities. Be patient with the children to assigned to you because It’s not easy to look after children. Engage them with every sense of compassion and avoid the temptation of inflicting physical or emotional pains on them.
“Do not hit them, do not yell at them. If a child behaves unruly, try to find out why. Most times children behave funny because they are looking for attention. This is why we had a lot of trainings on mental health, life skills and psycho-socio support. All these skills are necessary.
“We are also opening their minds up to technology because many of their parents do not know technology which you all know is very profitable. We want to also support the malams and Ulamas to see how we can encourage their businesses so that they will allow these children to learn new things.”
Mrs Uwais, who is also the National Coordinator of ARC-P thanked the Government of Borno State led by Professor Babagana Zulum for accepting to sign up on the programme initiative which according to her is critical to addressing the fundamental issues associated with low school enrolment and child poverty.
She said, “This Programme was conceived to support children who are out of school and who do not have support as much as they should. There is nobody here that can claim to love these vulnerable children as much as their parents, but the kids have not been exposed to the kind of skills that will enable them to take ownership of their lives and become assets to their families.
“These children have become part of our lives and we can’t ignore them. So it is much more than enrolling children and giving them skills. It is making sure that they actually remain in those classes and apply the skills. Foundation literacy is critical for skills because everyone needs to understand numbers and letters to be able to engage even in the market places.”
Speaking at the ceremony, the Deputy Governor of Borno State, Alhaji Umaru Kadafur who represented Governor Babagana Zulum thanked the Federal Government for Introducing ARC-P to the State and said the humanitarian Interventions of the Buhari administration is impacting significantly on the lives of the people, particularly those affected by insurgency in Borno State.
He said ARC-P is in line with the policy thrust of the State Government and pledged to provide all the necessary support to ensure that the Programme succeeds.