UNICEF Begins 2nd Phase of Back To School Campaign In Ebonyi

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By; MKPUMA ENYINNA, Abakaliki

The United Nations Childrens Fund (UNICEF), under the Global Partnership for Education has commenced second phase of “Back-to School Campaign in Afikpo South Local Government Area of Ebonyi State.

The second phase of the programme  which is the step down training, took place in Afikpo South Local  Area of Ebonyi State,  organized in collaboration with Federal Ministry of Education and Ebonyi State Universal Basic Education (SUBEB) to train parents, gate keepers,community leaders, School Based Management Committee (SBMC) members, head teachers, amongst others.

In his address, the Assistant Director, Basic Education under the Federal Ministry of Education, Mr. Afowowe Omotayo stated that the rate of out of school children is alarming in Nigeria as a result of COVID-19 pandemic which UNICEF in partnership with Federal Ministry of Education decided to embark on `Back-To-School Campaign to ensure that all they children that dropped out of school are restored back.

“The rate of out of school children is escalating and that is why during the COVID-19 period, the number of out of school children has increased.UNICEF partnering with Federal Government said the are going to bring the children back to school,”he said.

According to Mr. Omotayo, the exercise shall be replicated in sixteen states in Nigeria, including Ebonyi  and therefore, assured of more intervention programmes if  these children are brought back to school.

“This exercise is being replicated in sixteen states in Nigeria including Ebonyi State.We have come to meet with three categories of people:traditional gate keepers, the elders, the community leaders and volunteers.

“These associations and volunteers should be notified to help bring back those children from the street and get them back to the Classroom.

“Thank you very much for offering yourself to be part of this lofty programmes and I know, that a lot is still coming to your community.I am satisfied with what I met on ground, your valuable contributions and comportment to bring back those children to school.

“A lot of UNICEF interventions will come by the time we bring back these children. I can see the desire and the tenacity in you to ensure that these children are back.

“By the time you bring back this children, there will be a lot of programmes and interventions  because UNICEF and Federal Government have seen what you have done and your achievement so far.

Also speaking, one of the facilitators from Federal Ministry of Education, Mrs. Gbakoron Bridget appreciated  they participants for their prompt response to the call to bring back out of school children saying that children are the future of their parents and should be given quality education at all levels. 

The Director of Social Mobilization, Ebonyi State Universal Basic Education, Mrs.Maria Oselebe also noted that the campaign is not coming for the first time, but has been in place for some years back, adding that the purpose of the training is to brainstorm on how to enroll our children back to school. 

Mrs.Oselebe said a lot of testimonies has been given by people about the number of children that has returned back to school.

She commended the efforts  of School Based Management Committee members, head teachers and other relevant stakeholders for their commitment in that regard adding that education is the responsibility of everybody and should be taken serious.

On his part, the Director of Planning, Research and Statistics, Ebonyi State Min.of Education, Mr.Emmanuel Agbafor said some persons have been trained in Nasarawa in order to train others.Mr.Agbafor also explained that the want only those that have passion for education in order to ensure its sustainability.

In an interview with some of the participants after the training, HRH Eze Charles Azuenyia of Ebo Unwanna Edda Community, said he is excited about the training and they number of people that volunteered to ensure children are back to school are encouraging.

He however, stated that some children refused to go back to school because of peer group influence, ostentatious living, cultism, get money quick syndrome, calling on government authorities to take urgent steps to address it.

Other participants like Princess Ngbo Nnachi, Gift Kalu, Ufiem Ugbo Kalu among others expressed satisfaction over the training pledging to replicate them in their various communities.

 Some of the topics treated during the training are: Identification of out of school children, application of out of school children spread sheet for enrollment, community leaders among others.

The training also featured separate group presentations from the participants.

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