Segun Awofadeji in Gombe
Gombe State Governor, Alhaji Muhammadu Inuwa Yahaya, has sought the support of UNICEF and other agencies of the United Nations in addressing the issue of out-of-school children in his state and the Northern Nigeria.
He claimed that several factors, including poverty, insecurity, and cultural beliefs, had contributed to the high number of out-of-school in Gombe and other states of the federation.
He pointed out that accelerating investment in the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal Four (SDGs4), which is to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all, would also aid and contribute to the fight against poverty.
Yahaya, who is on the Nigerian delegation at the ongoing 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York, made the call while speaking with journalists after the SDGs’ summit.
He spoke on efforts to bring down the number of out of school children in Gombe State, which according to him has been very difficult because of the surge in number of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) from neighboring states.
“By 2019, according to the UNICEF account, there were 550,000 out of school children in Gombe alone and as of today, the numbers have risen either because of the settlement or rehabilitation of some people from the displaced states.
“You know, we share a boundary with the remaining five states of the Northeast. Therefore, most of them have relocated due to Gombe’s security and safety, adding to our own issues, and we must choose where and how.
“There ought to be around 600,000 by now, in my estimation. But in the past three or four years, we have been able to accept 350,000. Our goal is to ensure that each child in Gombe receives free quality education. At the very least, up to the basic education, in accordance with the principles of universal free education as guided by the Sustainable Development Goals.”
While he outlined some strategies that his administration employed to tackle the issue of out-of-school children, he added that he had already met with some UN agencies including the UNICEF and the United Nations Population Fund (UNPF) seeking support in addressing the growing menace.
The governor explained that his administration took some measures, including the establishment of community-based schools; construction, renovation and equipping of schools; distribution of learning materials to children, and sensitization campaigns to educate parents on the importance of sending their children to school.