News

May 28, 2024

Otti vows to punish parents over failure to enroll children in school

Otti vows to punish parents over failure to enroll children in school

By Steve Oko

Determined to curb the rate of out-of-school children, Abia State Government has announced sanctions for parents and guardians who fail to enroll their children in school.

Governor Alex Otti who disclosed this while addressing children at the Umuahia Township Stadium during this year’s Children’s Day celebration, said it had become an offense not to enroll children of school age in school.

The Governor who defied the heavy rain as he stood on the podium to take salute from equally determined pupils and students, described as unacceptable the non-enrollment of school-age children in the state.

He warned that henceforth, Government would no longer tolerate such act, adding that the policy will be supported with a legislation by the State House of Assembly which would prescribe penalties for offenders.

“From now on it is an offence for any child that is of school age not to be sent to school.

“We are going to back that up with a legislation and that legislation will prescribe penalties for any parent who refuses to bring out his child for education.

“We also do know that some parents might be financially challenged. The Ministry of Education is working out ways to create scholarship that would work, not for the educationally-advantaged but for the disadvantaged also,” he stated.

While noting that he was serious-minded about protecting the rights of the Abia child, the Governor stated that under his administration, no child in the state would be marginalised or molested.

He pointed out that the government voted 20% of the state budget in 2024 to education, and vowed to stop at nothing in ensuring that primary and post primary schools have basic minimum standard, including science and technology laboratories, hostels, teachers quarters, electronic libraries, among other modern facilities.

Governor Otti, who said he would continue to prioritise the welfare of children in the state, announced the abolishment of payment of levies for special books for students of the School for the Blind, Afara, Umuahia, and announced the donation of a bus to them and also directed the Commissioner for Lands and Housing, to commence perimeter fencing of the school.

The Governor revealed that he was moved to tears by the plight of children with special needs and proclaimed that the Special Education Center for the Deaf and Mentally Retarded would henceforth be known and addressed as, ‘Special Education Center for the Deaf and Mentally Challenged’.

He also announced the donation of a bus to the school, assuring that government would upgrade and equip the school properly to accommodate a secondary section.

In a message, the wife of the Governor, Mrs. Priscilla Otti, listed interventions by her office, aimed at empowering Abia children, reducing out of school children, donation of school supplies among other initiatives, asking that adult education and mass literacy centers in the state would be revived to bridge the literacy gap and foster a culture of life-long learning.

Earlier, the Commissioner for Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Mrs. Ngozi Blessing Felix, noted that the day was set aside to commemorate and cherish the potentials of the children and honour the younger generation, who would shape the future.

The Commissioner while pointing out that the present administration is committed to prioritising the welfare of Abia children, advised parents to provide their children with the needed guidance to thrive in future.

Speaking further, Otti assured children and youths in Abia State that under his watch,  their parents and guardians would not suffer as a result of non payment of salaries under his watch.

The Governor declared  that the era of salary arrears was gone in Abia.

He vowed  that under his watch, no child would be meant to go through the kind of difficulties they had to endure, due to the non-payment of salaries and pensions of their parents, guardians or benefactors by the past administration.

Otti apologised to Abia children for the hardship and humiliation they and their parents went through due to poor leadership, especially in the last eight years, prior to his assumption of office on May 29, 2023.

Speaking on the theme: “Enhancing the Total Well-being of the Nigerian Child Through Quality Education and Skills Development,” Otti said he was aware of the economic realities and promised to make life easy for Abia children.

He said:”I want to use this opportunity to apologise to the children of Abia for the bad leadership we have given to you. We are not unaware of the difficulties that you have gone through directly and indirectly.

“When your parents were being owed and your benefactors and people who support you were being owed their pension.

“When the roads were impassable, when everywhere was smelling and very indecent, our schools dilapidated, hospitals became centers of death; those were outcomes of bad leadership.

“We want to thank God that the storm is over. But we will not pretend that what happened in the past did not, because we are all witnesses.

“I want to assure you that from now henceforth the story will remain different,” he promised.