By Segun Awofadeji
Two civil society organisations; Leadtots and Human Development Services ; and Young Men Christian Associations (YMCA) with support from Northern Education Initiative (NEI) Plus, have trained and created access to education for no fewer than 12,300 out-of school children for reintegration into the formal system of learning.
The learners were trained on literacy, numeracy and life skills with sponsorship from the United State’s Agency for International Development (USAID).
THISDAY reports that Bauchi State has over 1.3 million out-of-school children, the highest in any state in the country.
Speaking at the graduation of the last set of 4,000 of the children at Itas Gadau Local Government Area of Bauchi State, the Executive Director of Human Development Services, Yahaya Bako Galadima, noted that the project commenced in 2016.
“From that time till now, many learners have been mainstreamed into the formal education system,” he said, adding that 250 facilitators were empowered to train the children and so far, 12,300 children have been taken out of the streets and reintegrated into the formal education sector.
Galadima said during the five- year period of the training, about 2,500 members of Center Based Management Committee (CBMC) which takes care of the Non-Formal Learning Centers (NFLC), were engaged.
He added that 20 community coalition from the local governments were used and 21 programme officers from the LGA which worked under Leadtots and YMCA were also engaged.
“These children are used to going to school three times in a week for about two to four hours; now, we are absolving them into the formal education system where they will have to go to school from Mondays to Fridays and they will be expected to stay from 8 am to about 12.30 pm.
“If we don’t make frantic efforts to help these children who are used to few hours of learning, it will be difficult for them to cope and stay in school for hours. We must make them know the importance of education so that they can become future leaders, because they have various gifts and potentials of becoming great in life, not just in Itas Gadau, but even in the country.
“We should help and encourage these children by providing them with books, uniforms, shoes and many other things they need to succeed.”
In her remarks, the Access and Fragility officer, NEI Plus, Hajiya Aisha Kilishi, said the programme faced a major setback due to the COVID-19 pandemic which forced schools to be closed for nine months, adding that one of the two major objectives of the NEI is to ensure that all children in Bauchi that are of school age, but are not in school, are given the opportunity to do so.
“We thought of how best we can take education to the doorsteps of these children and we decided to go to the rural areas in northern Nigeria, we went to Bauchi and Sokoto states and decided to open these Non-Formal Learning Centers.
“All we hope to achieve is that people acquire sound and quality education wherever they are,” she stated.
Kiishi said her organisation’s target is to ensure that children have quality education such that they can learn how to read and write within a short period of time, pointing out that if a child learns how to read within that short time, that will form the foundation he needs for making exploits in life.