The “distressing” figure of over 20 million children reported to be currently out-of-school in Nigeria is a cause of worry, according to the Chief Executive Officer of the international charity, IA-Foundation, Mrs Ibironke Adeagbo.
Speaking in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Sunday, Adeagbo described the “huge number of Nigeria’s out-of-school kids as “worrisome’’, pleading with the Federal Government to rise to the challenge immediately.
On Sept. 1, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), released a research report that put the current figure of out-of-school children in Nigeria at about 20.2 million – the highest in the world.
But the Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, had earlier on Aug. 18, announced that Nigeria was turning the corner in its out-of-school crisis.
He said that the number of out-of-school children in the country had dropped drastically in recent years from 10.5 million to about 6.9.
However, the issue of high number of out-of-school children has been a contentious issue in Nigeria in recent times.
Nigeria is Africa’s top crude exporter and one of the continent’s biggest economies but poor implementation of policies has affected the country’s education industry adversely, according to analysts.
A persistent insurgency, especially in northern parts of the country has also exacerbated the out-of-school crisis, forcing many children out of classrooms.
British born Adeagbo, who has been campaigning for education rights for Nigerian children, pleaded with the Federal Government to give priority attention to education to secure the future of the country.
“Education in Nigeria is in a state of emergency. Government must proffer strategic solutions to save the future of our children,’’ she said.
Adeagbo also advised government to forge international partnerships to bring international agencies and foreign governments to assist Nigeria to resolve current problems plaguing the education sector.
“The ministry of education must be more vocal on the decadence in the education sector, to find lasting solutions to current challenges.
According to her, Nigeria must create an enabling environment for non-governmental organisations to form strategic alliances with government to salvage the education sector.
She said there was urgent need for government to upgrade infrastructure in schools to foster a congenial atmosphere for teaching and learning.
Adeagbo reiterated the determination of IA-Foundation to partner with State Governments to take education to grassroots communities to give opportunities to hapless Nigerian kids.