By Deji Elumoye and Udora Orizu
President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday in Abuja directed the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, to coordinate and lead the deployment of a national plan to address the issue of out-of-school children in the country.
Inaugurating an 18-member Presidential Steering Committee on Alternate School Programme (ASP) co-chaired by the Ministers of Humanitarian Affairs and Education, the President said it was unacceptable to see children abandoning formal school to engage in menial jobs and child labour in the markets, streets and workshops.
Buhari said the national plan to be deployed by the federal government, through the Humanitarian Affairs Ministry, would ensure a holistic and comprehensive inclusiveness of appropriate basic education for vulnerable children.
He said, ‘‘To commence this special education initiative, emphasis should be given to first provide a limited scope of subjects in Mathematics, English Language, Basic Science and Social Studies. Gradually, the initiative will be scaled up to ensure the acquisition of relevant technical skills in the process that can enable the beneficiaries to participate in gainful economic activities.
“Some United Nations agencies that report a disturbing level of out-of-school children estimated at 13 million’’.
The Humanitarian Affairs Ministry had identified the critical need to further address literacy inclusiveness, especially among these vulnerable children.
‘‘While we continue to sustain our efforts on providing formal and conventional education through the activities of the Universal Basic Education Commission under the Federal Ministry of Education, it is still a common sight to notice children abandoning formal school to become apprentices in shops, workshops and markets, whilst many others choose to loiter at markets, become cart pushers and hawkers. These are not acceptable.’’
The President also used the occasion to reiterate the commitment of the federal government to deal with key challenges of absolute poverty and propel Nigeria and Nigerians to a better way of life and development.
Buhari expressed delight that many countries are now admiring and imitating Nigeria’s social investment programmes as an effective strategy in the fight against poverty.