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Nigeria registers 3.2m children in schools in one year

The Federal Government has disclosed that the number of Out-of- School-Children (OSC) in the country has dropped from 10.1 million to 6.946 million as at December 31, 2020. By implication, 3,247,590 million children, who were hitherto not in school, were enrolled within the space of a year and some months, due to the several activities undertaken by the Ministry of Education under President Muhammadu Buhari’s government to bridge the education gap in the country, through its blueprint – ‘Education for Change: A Ministerial Strategic Plan.’

This was even as N1.7 trillion has been invested in tertiary institutions through the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND) in the last five and a half years, with an approval of N395 million in 2020 to be disbursed to institutions for infrastructural and capacity development.

Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, who disclosed this at the annual ministerial press briefing on the ministry’s activities in 2020, noted that the sum of $611 million secured through the World Bank credit facility to support Universal Basic Education (UBE), recorded a massive enrolment of over one million OSC in 17 states.

According to him, a total of 1,792,833 children were enrolled through formal schools, while 1,454,757 children were captured through non-formal interventions. Of these figures, efforts of the National Association of Proprietors and School Owners of Nigeria (NAPSON) alone, led to the enrolment of over one million OSC, with each private school sponsoring five students. Also, enrolment programmes were said to have been carried out in Benue, Nasarawa and Zamfara states. A breakdown of the total enrolment figures of 3,247,590 for boys and girls per state were: Adamawa 25,714, Bauchi 83,391, Borno 62,336 Ebonyi 65,471, Gombe 52,600, Jigawa 47,616, Kaduna 39,091, Kano 302,434 and Katsina 26,555.

Others are Kebbi 25,556, Niger 73,568, Oyo 40,007, Rivers 22,782, Sokoto 71,000, Taraba 24,246, Yobe 72,000 and Zamfara 19,005. Adamu, who was hopeful that more OSCs would be enrolled in school this year, disclosed that $500 million loan was secured from World Bank credit facility to drive the Adolescent Girls Initiative for Learning and Empowerment (AGILE) programme, to ensure girls were taken off the streets, trained and empowered to live normal and quality lives.

He said: “Under the initiative of the Better Education Service Delivery For All (BESDA), the Federal Government secured a World Bank credit facility in the sun of $611 million to support 17 states of the federation in strengthening UBE as well as the first pillar of the Ministerial Strategic Plan (MSP) on Out-of-school-children. “As at today, we have recorded impressive school enrolment figures in 17 states of the Federation where BESDA is being implemented.

I can, however, tell you that through the BESDA initiative, we have reduced the figure of out-ofschool- children by 3.247,590 as at December 31, 2020. “This is made up of 1,792,833 through formal schools, while 1,454,757 are through non-formal interventions such as Almajiri, Girl Child Nomadic and IDPs as confirmed by the National Population Commission and National Bureau of Statistics.”

Adamu, who further revealed that 900,000 Nigerians were “taken off the shelve” of adult illiterates in 2020, said there were ongoing plans to develop an instrument to put a stop to out-of-school-children by making it an offence for any adult not to undertake any form of learning.

“The phenomenon of adult illiterates is equally disturbing. The children of illiterate parents are 80 per cent more likely to be out of school. Attention has therefore been given to the adult and mass literacy sub-sector in the last one year.

“In 2019, we were able to reach and train millions of Nigerians on basic literacy and numeracy across 14 states, while 900,000 have been taken off that bracket in 2020. In the last two years, 1,900,000 illiterate Nigerians have been able to read and write either English or the three Nigerian languages through this effort. Our target of three million could not be reached due to the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.” While emphasising the need to harmonise the school calendar and national examinations, he explained that during the lockdown occasioned by COVID-19, some learners, especially those at the rural areas, were unable to continue learning through online facilities due to major challenges of internet access and electricity.

Adamu also said in the last one year, three specialised universities were established. Also, four private universities, nine polytechnics, 20 colleges of education and other allied institutions were given license, even as 20 applications for private universities were being processed for consideration by the Federal Executive Council and four polytechnics were at the final stage of approval. The minister noted that the special teachers’ salary scale would take effect as from January 1, 2022.

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