FG: Figure of Out-of-school Children Drops from 10.5m to 6.95m in one year

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By Kuni Tyessi

The federal government has said that through its Better Education Service Delivery for All (BESDA) programme, the disturbing statistics of out-of-school children from 10.5 million has dropped in the last one year to 6,946,328.

This is not unconnected to a World Bank credit facility that was secured to the tune of $611,000,000 and $500,00,000 for out-of-school children and Adolescent Girls Initiative for Learning and Empowerment Programme (AGILE) respectively.

Also, in the last one year, N1.3 trillion was committed to capital expenditure in tertiary institutions, with the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) disbursing the sum of N395,032,375.00 to the development of infrastructures, aside other budgetary allocations and revitalisation funds to universities.

The Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, who stated this on Thursday in Abuja during the 2020 annual ministerial press briefing, said the classification of the out-of-school persons included out-of-school children, out-of-school adolescent girls, adult illiterates, school dropouts and nomads.

According to him, “Out-of-school children, under the initiative of the Better Education Service Delivery for All (BESDA), the federal government secured a World Bank credit facility in the sum of $611,000,000 to support the government in strengthening basic education.

“As at today, we have recorded impressive school enrolment figures in 17 states of the federation where BESDA is being implemented. I can however tell you that through the BESDA initiative, we have reduced the figure of out-of-school children from 10.1 million since May last year down to 6,946,328.

“So far, we have launched BESDA in ten states namely: Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Ebonyi, Kano, Kebbi, Oyo, Yobe, Niger, and Zamfara.

“A World Bank facility of $500,000,000 has been secured for the Adolescent Girls Initiative for Learning and Empowerment Programme (AGILE) to ensure that these girls are taken off the streets, trained and financially empowered.”

For tertiary institutions, he said the federal government has taken steps to establish four public universities, six polytechnics and six federal colleges of education.

He lamented that despite the efforts of the government to make tertiary education environment accommodating, there hasn’t been any reciprocal appreciation of government’s efforts in tertiary institutions by workers in the sub sector, particularly the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).

“A total of N1.3 trillion has been committed to capital expenditure in our tertiary institutions. In the last one year, TETFund has committed a total of N395,032,375.00 to the development of infrastructure in tertiary institutions. This is aside other budgetary allocations and revitalisation funds to universities.

“The last five years have witnessed massive investment in capital projects in tertiary institutions totalling approximately N1.7 trillion in tertiary institutions with the universities taking two thirds of the total sum.

“On the contrary, and sadly too, there has been no reciprocal appreciation of governments efforts in tertiary institutions by workers in the sub sector, particularly the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).

“In order to ensure industrial harmony in tertiary institutions and uninterrupted academic calendar, the federal government is to intensify the renegotiation of the 2009/2010 agreement, the Memorandum of Understanding and Memorandum of Action with a view to bringing all negotiations to a successful completion in 2021.

“I cannot assure Nigerians that the current pandemic or the prolonged ASUU strike will be the last. As a nation, we have to think outside the box to ensure that we are not caught napping in an event of the deterioration of the current pandemic or the next ASUU strike. A national working committee working in collaboration with UNICEF has been constituted. A grant has been obtained from the Global Partnership for Education to build a national education cloud to warehouse educational resource materials. Upon the inauguration of this facility, hopefully in the next six months, time and space will no longer be a hindrance to learning,” he said.

While announcing that the governing councils of 13 universities have been inaugurated, the minister revealed that appointments into the governing board of polytechnics and colleges of education will be announced shortly.