The challenge of reintegrating out-of-school children into education has been identified as a significant issue by the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF). In a report on its website, it stated that one in every five of the world’s out-of-school children is in Nigeria.
This is a sad reality and it is a deep call for the government, educational agencies, ministries of education, schools, and everyone in the education ecosystem to fix culpability to where culpabilities belong. The ‘culpability’ here is the government that set the educational agenda for the rest of the players in the education ecosystem.
“Even though primary education is officially free and compulsory, about 10.5 million of the country’s children aged five to 14 years are not in school. Only 61 per cent of six to 11 year-olds regularly attend primary school and only 35.6 per cent of children aged 36-59 months receive early childhood education.
“In the north of the country, the picture is even bleaker, with a net attendance rate of 53 per cent. Getting out-of-school children back into education poses a massive challenge.
“Gender, like geography and poverty, is an important factor in the pattern of educational marginalisation. States in the northeast and north-west have female primary net attendance rates of 47.7 per cent and 47.3 per cent, respectively, meaning that more than half of the girls are not in school. The education deprivation in northern Nigeria is driven by various factors, including economic barriers and socio-cultural norms and practices that discourage attendance in formal education, especially for girls.”
It added that UNICEF education programme aimed at ensuring children access and complete quality education, within a safe learning environment would solve these challenges.
“The aim of UNICEF’s education programme is to support the government in achieving SDG four by 2030 through improved planning and by addressing some of the systemic barriers that hinder the implementation of an effective education strategy.
Our programme advocates for education to be prioritised and targets children who are least likely to receive an education. The expected outcome of the programme is that all children access and complete quality education, within a safe learning environment, gaining the skills and knowledge for lifelong learning.”
It explained that this would be achieved by creating an enabling environment for education, improving the quality of education, increasing demand for education, and humanitarian assistance, by ensuring more teachers had core knowledge and competencies to use proven teaching methodologies to deliver appropriate quality education.
Also, UNICEF advised that the education system at the federal and state levels had strengthened capacities to deliver quality basic education.
Will the new government pioritise education? Time will tell.