By Segun Awofadeji in Bauchi
The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) is collaborating with the Bauchi State Government to tackle the challenges of out-of-school children in the state.
To this end it has sensitised stakeholders on Household Mapping and Enumeration of Out-of-school Children across eight local government areas of the State.
In a sensitisation meeting held in partnership with Bauchi State Universal Basic Education Board (BASUBEB) , UNICEF identified factors contributing to the increase in the number out-of-school children.
Mr Bhanu Pathak, Chief Field Officer, UNICEF Nigeria, Bauchi Field Office stated this at a Stakeholders and Sensitisation Meeting on Household Mapping and Enumeration of Out-of-School Children’’ across the eight local government areas of the state held at Command Guest House, Bauchi yesterday.
Represented by Mr Amos Kudzala, UNICEF’s Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Specialist, Pathak said UNICEF was partnering the state government to improve education outcomes in the state.
The Chief of Field Office noted that challenge of out of school children particularly in the Northeast was becoming worrisome, saying that if the situation was not addressed, the nation might suffer literacy level and numeracy rates and decreased future labour force.
In a sensitisation meeting held in collaboration with Bauchi State Universal Basic Education Board (BASUBEB) , Pathak identified factors contributing to the increase in the number of out-of-school children.
He said that in addition to economic reason, cost of schooling, socio-cultural and religious considerations are the major factors for the decline in school enrollments, stressing that education plays a vital role in the development of any country and eradicate poverty as well as improving the excellence of one’s life.
According to him “It is no longer news that there are over 13 million out-of-school children in Nigeria, and of this number, about 60 percent are in the North. This situation is not only unacceptable but calls for urgent action by all stakeholders.
“To contribute to addressing the challenge of out-of-school children, UNICEF has a vision to collaborate with government institutions, traditional leaders, civil society organisations, faith-based organisations, communities and other development partners to find solutions that will result in getting the out-of-school children back to school.
“To do that, we have to identity where those out-of-school children are —hence the household mapping and enumeration of out-of-school children exercise we have supported the government to embark on,” he said.
The UNICEF boss stated that inadequate teachers, learning facilities and far distance to the nearest school, classrooms and toilet must be addressed to return children to classroom, adding that Bauchi State has 1,080,150 out-of-school children, which is the second highest after Kano State which has 1,496,736.
In his Goodwill Message, a representative of Northern Education Initiative NEI plus, in Bauchi State, Mustapha Ahmed, said that NEI was currently working in 10 local government areas of the state on household mapping, adding that they have successfully mapped out 20 households in 422,000 communities.