By; MOHAMMED KAWU, Bauchi
Northern Education Initiative (NEI-Plus) has commended the Bauchi Field Office of UNICEF for its introduction of various initiatives for the improvement of access to safe and quality basic education delivery in Bauchi State.
Bauchi State Team Lead of NEI-Plus, Mustapha Ahmed who made the commendation, explained that the U N agency has introduced far reaching initiatives being tailored to improve the standard of education generally in the state.
Ahmed was speaking at a two-day Youth Mobilization Conference as part of the activities commemorating the 2019 Day of African Child (DAC) organized by the Bauchi State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) in collaboration with UNICEF and High Level Women Advocates (HILWA) holding at Zaranda Hotel, Bauchi.
The NEI-Plus lead outlined some of the interventions introduced by UNICEF to include the staging of focal persons at all relevant MDAs in Bauchi state, building the capacity of teachers and education managers for better service delivery, provision of education materials, She-for She, Youths Mobilization, among others, all being geared towards improving access to education.
“So you can UNICEF has done a lot as far as basic education sub-sector is concern, and now they are coming with another initiative which is youths mobilization to increase access to quality basic education, and the High Level Women Advocates that are behind today’s program”, Ahmed said.
He therefore congratulated the 120 youths that formed part of the participants at the workshop to develop their capacity, and urged them not to only cascade down what they might have learnt, but also educate and mobilize their peer groups, community and whoever they might come across.
Ahmed told the youths, “Education for all is the responsibility for all. You are therefore now critical stakeholders as far as mobilization of enrolment, retention, and completion in our schools is concern, so UNICEF has thought it carefully to be able to identify you, you are identified base on tract records, behaviors, so we expect you to be responsible”.
The Chief of Field Office UNICEF Bauchi, Mr. Bhanu Pathak has in a goodwill message to the workshop explained through the Girls Education Project (GEP) funded by UKAid and implemented by UNICEF, teachers and head teachers have been trained on lesson plans, early grade reading and leadership skills.
“410 schools received grants to implement school specific plans, promoted girls access and learning, 484 girls equipped with leadership, life skills knowledge and skills for personal use and growth, over 1, 000 sponsored young women and girls in rural areas graduated from Aminu Saleh College of Education Azare to mention a few”.
Mr. Bhanu Pathak assured that UNICEF will continue to support the Bauchi state government in its strive to up light the situation of girls, women and children, stressing however that issues still requiring attention include low budgetary allocation and releases to education, inadequate number of toilet facilities, inadequate sources of safe drinking water, as only 32% of teachers in rural areas are female.
He said that the mobilization/advocacy effort is planned to run through the year targeting international and national events as windows for mobilization, targeted advocacy and campaign.
It is on this premise that the Education section of UNICEF Nigeria mobilized Nigeria youths across 14 states and FCT to embark on continuous advocacy for equitable and increased access to safe quality education for all children, especially girls.
Pathak stated that the advocacy/campaign is expected to hold the newly elected government officials at all levels accountable on their campaign promises to provide equitable access to free, safe and quality education for every child especially girl child in Nigeria.
He congratulated Senator Bala Abdulkadir Mohammed on his electoral success and recent swearing-in as the Executive Governor of Bauchi state, recalling that during the build up to the 2019 general elections, many promises were made by political candidates seeking election or re-election into political offices both at state and federal level.
The Day of the African Child is being celebrated on June 16 every year since 1991 when it was first initiated by the Organization of African Unity (OAU). It honors those who participated in the Soweto Uprising in 1976 on that day. It also raises awareness of the continuing need for improvement of education provided to African children.