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Group seeks strong education system to address problems of out-of-school children

Salam made the call in an interview with journalists on the sideline of the four-day national children’s leadership conference to mark the 2023 Universal Children’s Day in Abuja.
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Bamidele Salam, founder and president of the Children of Africa Leadership and Values Development Initiative (CALDEV), has called for a strong national education system to address the problems of out-of-school children.

Salam made the call in an interview with journalists on the sideline of the four-day national children’s leadership conference to mark the 2023 Universal Children’s Day in Abuja.

The conference with the theme: “Rebuilding Nigeria through investment in children’s education, welfare, and security” and is meant to bring together hundreds of children from the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory from Nov. 17 to Nov. 21.

Mr Salam also said that a strong national education system will engender early learning and innovations to extend education opportunities to the hardest-to-reach children and adolescents.

CALDEV, an NGO, teaches and mentors children and young adults on leadership and life values.

He said the number of out-of-school children in Nigeria was on the increase.

He noted that the welfare and security of citizens, especially the Nigerian child, cannot be guaranteed now or later if the menace of out-of-school children is not addressed.

Mr Salam also said the conference will focus on discussions and deliberations centred on identifying causes and making recommendations on how to tackle challenges facing the education, welfare and security of the Nigerian child.

“It is so unfortunate that Nigeria has the largest population of out-of-school children of primary school age and this is part of our discussions at this conference.

“We believe strongly that one of the ways through which we can tackle this problem is to raise children vanguard and children advocates who will talk to the conscience of parents and government.

“They will talk to everyone that has a duty to ensure that we gradually begin a process of reducing the number and eventually having a zero number of out-of-school children in Nigeria.

“So from here, we are going to be having more children who are acting as advocates to access education for their fellow children in every part of Nigeria.

“I believe that having this number of voices everywhere on the team will help us to address this emergency,” he said.

He said the event was organised to provide a national convergence platform to give Nigerian Children the opportunity to express their God-given talents and innovative skills and give their suggestions for nation-building.

He said young Nigerians who have displayed excellent feats in their careers will be given awards at the Conference.

Some participants, who spoke on the sideline of the conference, expressed delight at how the conference was shaping their mindsets.

Adedolapo Ogunbayo said: “I have learnt that in life things do not just come easy, you have to make sacrifices, and also that winners never quit and quitters never win.”

Also, Joshua Agboola, a 14-year-old programmer, who was nominated to receive an award at the conference, said: “I am happy to be here and I think all children should be entitled to free education because it is very important for their future.”

The conference had in attendance over 300 children between the ages of 12 and 17 from over 24 states of the federation.

It features leadership training, children’s parliamentary session, children’s dialogue on values, national unity and patriotism, as well as children’s financial literacy session.

Other high points include panel discussions, quiz competitions, children’s films and books exhibitions, art exhibitions, book presentations and awards.


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