Find solution to out-of-school children crisis – Expert tells govt

SOS Children’s Villages Nigeria, a child-centered international organisation, has advocated urgent need to find solutions to barriers that keep millions of Nigerian children out-of-school.

Mr Eghosa Erhumwunse, National Director, SOS Children’s Villages in Nigeria, made the call on Sunday in Abuja, in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).

Erhumwunse said an urgent collective effort was required to ensure that every Nigerian child had access to quality education in the safest environment.

He said the call was imperative as the world celebrates the International Day of the African Child, with the theme ‘Education for All: The Time is Now.’

‘There is a dire need to re-evaluate the concerns of education and the growing number of out-of-school children in Nigeria.

‘According to a recent report from UNICEF, Nigeria has the highest number of out-of-school children in the world, with about 18.4 million children out of school in Nigeria.

‘What is the fate of the Nigerian child if 1 in 3 Nigerian ch
ildren is out of school and 12.4 million children have never seen the inside of a classroom,’ he said.

The director further said that 5.9 million children leave school earlier than the stipulated graduation time.

He stressed that Nigeria accounts for 15 per cent of the global total of out-of-school children according to a 2022 UNICEF report.

Erhumwunse listed the barriers as conflict and insecurity, vulnerability and scarce resources, cultural and gender norms, effects of climate change, limited infrastructure and accessibility challenges.

‘Education is not just about knowledge acquisition; it is a fundamental right and a catalyst for breaking the cycle of poverty as seen in many other countries.

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‘Nigeria, as a country, must double its efforts in tackling the issues of out-of-school children in society, especially in rural communities,’ he said.

Erhumwunse said that SOS Children’s Villages prioritise the education
needs of children through numerous programmes.

The SOS Children’s Villages director in Nigeria therefore urged governments to increase reinvestment in actionable policies and implementations that would take children off the streets.

He said that families’ economic capacities needed to be strengthened to meet the education and other needs of their young ones.

Erhumwunse said all hands must be on deck to ensure safe and peaceful atmosphere in schools through full implementation of the Safe School Declaration across states and communities.

He also said that communities and relevant stakeholders should create awareness on the importance of education for children.

He also emphasised the need to implement children’s right to education as contained in the Child Rights Act.

‘Providing alternative care for children in emergencies reduces the number of out-of-school children.

‘This method provides psychosocial and educational support for children who have lost or are at risk of losing parental care.

‘It ensures
that they grow in a loving environment fit and mentally ready for school and the society,’ he said

Erhumwunse also urged policymakers, educators, civil society, and individuals to renew their dedication to creating conducive environment for children to dream and aspire regardless of their circumstances.

He said such environments would empower future generations to build a brighter and more equitable world.

Source: News Agency of Nigeria