Nigeria now has about 20 million out-of-school children, according to the latest global data on out-of-school children by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).
The Federal Government said it is doing everything possible to ensure that children get back to school but it seems the numbers out of school children keeps increasing.
Speaking on TVC Breakfast on Wednesday, Founder, CEO IA Foundation, Ronke Adeagbo said the figures are alarming and very depressing.
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Recall that the federal government had announced the intervention program in the area of building more schools and also the school feeding programme yet the numbers keep going in the wrong direction.
Adeagbo noted that despite the figures skyrocketing, in the world, there are about 244 million out of school children.
she added that in the sub-Saharan Africa, there are about 98 million children out of school which is worrisome.
The IA founder attributed part of the reason why Nigeria has so many out-of school children to insecurity.
She noted that challenges of insecurity is prevalent in the North which has led to the closure of most schools.
“No matter the intervention the government puts in place, until the issue of insecurity is addressed, the problem will be there and will persist.
“The Government needs to wake up and give itself a reality check.”
Adeagbo also noted the disparity in figures given by the minister of education and UNESCO.
She said: The Minister of education is saying the number of out of school children is 6.9 million, how can that be when UNESCO is saying it is 20.2.
“The minister of education is aware that schools are being closed, so how can the number go down?
She noted that the situation is like a revolving door with no one taking responsibility for the situation.
“The minister of education is blaming state governments, the governments are blaming the situation on insecurity.
“The bulk needs to stop somewhere and this problem needs to be addressed.”
Adeagbo said the issue of out of school children and insecurity can be resolved if there is the political will do so.
The reason we have a lot of insecurity challenges now is because so many out of school children were on the street years ago, they have now grown up to be bandits and we are now seeing the number of out of school children at 20 million.
She said all hands must be on deck to see the issue dealt with and resolved as it is no longer only the governments’ duty.
Adeagbo called on NGO’s, Philanthropist and individuals who can afford to put a child in school to do so.
The IA founder added that despite federal government’s safer school initiative and 65 billion dollar aid from the world bank, the issue of funds was no longer the question but insecurity must be addressed.
“If schools are not secure, no parent will send their child to school, no parent wants their child/children to be kidnapped.
“The government needs to have initiatives, work with security companies, reinforce the military and ensure schools are safe.
“Every school needs to have robust security, infrastructure to reassure parents to send their children back to school”.
Adeagbo noted that the number of out of school children are heavily concentrated in the North while adding that using school feeding programme as a strategy was also not working well.
Speaking on the mass exodus of those who have been successfully educated within the Nigerian system, Adeagbo noted that they are leaving the country in droves to go and improve other economies.
“We are losing out on both ends, our kids are not going to school and those who are going to school are leaving the country.
“This is one of the most important thing the government needs to be addressing at this point in time, otherwise Nigeria will not be able to compete favourable with other countries”.
On possible solutions to insecurity, Adeagbo noted that with education comes enlightenment but some set of people don’t want others to be empowered, enabled or equipped.
“The only way to make sure people are not equipped is to make sure they don’t have access to education.
“We are in a war situation whereby we have some non-state actors trying to fight the education system to ensure people are not educated, enlightened and they can’t be prosperous.
“Some of the political elites do not want people to have access to education because the moment you are educated, you can stand up for yourself, you can also intelligently decide who you are going to vote for.
“There is tension in the system, those who do not want people to be educated and those who want people to be educated.”
She added “We cannot afford for non-state actors to win the battle”
“Education is under attack, we are in a war situation in terms of education in Nigeria”