ABUJA – Lai Mohammed, Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Culture, has bemoaned the growing population of out-of-school children in Nigeria, with females constituting over 75 percent out of the 13. 5million estimates.
While attributing the development to poverty, early marriage, teenage pregnancy and illiteracy, he said it is more worrisome that girls in northern Nigeria accounted for a higher percentage of the population.
His observations were made during a media dialogue on Cash Transfer Programme, organised by the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) in collaboration with the Child Rights Information Bureau (CRIB) of the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture in Birnin Kebbi, Kebbi State.
The minister, who was represented by Uche Chuta, assistant director, Advocate and Gender Desk Officer, CRIB, however, explained that the government had introduced various development policies, including the school feeding programme geared towards boosting enrollment.
The minister said: “Girl-child education is a major issue of concern in most developing countries of the world today, particularly in sub-Sahara Africa where a large number of young girls does not attend school.
“It is, however, more worrisome that Nigeria is counted to be among the West African countries that have the highest number of girls that are out of school and that more than 75 percent of the 13.5 million children out-of-school are girls.
“Barriers to girls’ education in Nigeria, particularly in the northern parts, have been identified to include a wide range of causes. They include poverty, early marriage, illiteracy and teenage pregnancy, all of which have grave consequences for both the girl child and society at large.
“The Federal Government is in the forefront of enhancing massive school enrollment attendance and completion by school -aged children through various child development policies including the National School Feeding Programme.”
It would be recalled that the situation also necessitated a study by UNICEF, which culminated in recommendations to governments at all levels to begin to mainstream more female teachers in the education system.
According to the research findings, female teachers were more liberal in imparting knowledge than their male counterparts, the study equally posited that parents were more likely to send their children or wards to school with female teachers.
Earlier, the State Project Coordinator, Educate -A-Child/UNICEF, Kebbi state, Isah Usman said the goal of the EAC/CTP project was to expand access to basic education to 501,749 children out of the 13.5 million that were out-of-school in Kebbi, Sokoto and Zamfara states by 2020.
He said 41,391 children had so far benefitted from the intervention programme by UNICEF in Kebbi State.
According to him, Kebbi and Zamfara states were considered as educationally disadvantaged states in the country, thus the various interventions by UNICEF.
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