By; ALEX UANGBAOJE, Sokoto
United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), has revealed that 10,983, girls and boys out of 41,491 targeted for it’s ‘Educate a Child’ (EAC), programme being founded by Qatar Foundation, in Kebbi and Zamfara states have already received their first payment for enrolling into primary school.
A total of N365,705,000 has so far been disbursed to beneficiaries by DFID and UNICEF, while N11,884,065 was said to be the operational cost, which is a total of N 377,589,065 and that the state operational cost was N 7,731,000.
Azuka Menkiti, Education Specialist with UNICEF Abuja, made the revelation in her presentation, during a two day Media Dialogue on Cash Transfer programme in Northern Nigeria, organized by on Tuesday in Sokoto, organized by The Child Rights Information Bureau of the Federal Ministry of Information and the United Nations Children Funds (UNICEF).
According to her, UNICEF had done similar programme in 2014 to 2016, under ‘Girls Education Project (GEP) 1+3, which was founded by United Kingdom Department For International Development (DFID), where 23,655 girls in Niger and Sokoto States benefited from the programme.
She said the overall goal of EAC is to expand access to quality basic education for 501,749 out-of-school children (OOSC) by 2020 in Katsina, Kebbi, Sokoto and Zamfara.
Azuka added that increased access for out-of-school children in target states, improved quality of teaching and learning environment in target states, are part of the objectives of the programme.
“The Cash transfer intervention under the EAC aims to reach 41,391 child beneficiaries and their female caregivers in four years: 31,044 in Kebbi State and 10,347 in Zamfara State. In Kebbi State, in the first year the programme runs in the local government areas (LGAs) of Danko-Wasagu, Suru and Maiyama and will be expanded to Argungu, Bagudo, Dandi, Gwandu, Koko-Besse and Shanga LGAs. She said.
The purpose according to her, is to reduce the poverty-related reasons preventing children’s especially girls’ enrolment and retention in schools.
“Cash transfers smooth household consumption through a regular and predictable income source, mitigate sudden economic shocks within the household, and allow a regular source of revenue for household investments otherwise out of reach.
“The ability of an unconditional cash transfer to promote school enrolment is that lack of income is a primary reason why poor parents do not send their children to school.
“This reasoning is supported by evidence from cash transfer situational analysis and community household mapping and listing of out-of-school children that indicates poverty-related issues as the most cited reasons that prevents children especially girls from attending school.
“Economic demand barriers; Poverty – almost one third of parents (32%) cited poverty-related reasons as the main reason their children were not in school.
Though basic education is officially free, the reality is that educational related costs do exist, not just fees but also indirect costs and opportunity costs.
“The programme is specifically designed to address the poverty-related reasons preventing children to enroll and stay in school giving families an opportunity to cover direct and opportunity costs related to their children’s – especially girls’ – education.” Azuka explained.
She further states that, the programme is also targeted at increasing school enrolment and attendance rates for boys and girls, as well as enhance the socio-economic wellbeing of beneficiary households.
“Costs include direct fees which are paid directly to the school or school system for tuition, examination, activity costs, etc.; while indirect costs are books, stationery, uniforms, transport, snacks/meals; and opportunity costs.
“When household incomes increase as a result of the unconditional cash transfer, it is assumed that households will increase their expenditure on human capital investments such as sending their children to school.
“Evidence from a number of studies on unconditional cash transfers, demonstrate that these transfers increase schooling. Poverty is a key reason that children especially girls are not attending primary school, therefore this initiative is expected to increase girls’ enrolments rates in primary school without imposing any conditionalities.
“UNICEF Nigeria Unconditional Cash transfer programme is specifically designed to support families with the direct and opportunity costs of children’s education especially girls’.
“Poorest families receive cash to counter the direct and opportunity costs of education thereby reducing economic and child labor barriers. She said.