16 States Benefiting In Back-To-School Campaign In Nigeria – UNICEF

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*says 18.5m children are out of school

By; MKPUMA ENYINNA, Abakaliki

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has said that no fewer than 16 States in Nigeria including Ebonyi  are benefitting from Back-To-School Campaign in Nigeria, lamenting that 18.5 million children are out of school in the country.

The Director in charge of Basic Education, Federal Ministry of Education, Mr. Afowowe Omotayo made this known during the step down training on Back To School Campaign at Station Community  Secondary School, Indiogbu, Izzi Local Government Area of Ebonyi State.

According to him, UNICEF is passionate about  out-of-school children and is doing everything possible to bring them back to school.

He further said that 16 states including Ebonyi are currently benefiting from the second phase of Back-to-School campaign across the country.

“UNICEF is so passionate about bringing the children back to school. One of the things that is promoting development in Nigeria is education. During the COVID-19 period, many children dropped out of school.  UNICEF partnering with the Federal Government decided to bring them back to classroom.

“So, this exercise is being replicated in 16 other states including Ebonyi. This programme has gone round those states  to see that the children are back to school. This programme is very important to us as a community and that is why we are here today to meet with three categories of people, the traditional gate keepers, the elders, the community leaders and volunteers.

“We believe that these categories of people will help us to bring those children back to school since throughout COVID-19 period, schools were under lock and key.”

Mr. Omotayo also explained that the programme is targeting out-of-school children which is escalating every year, stressing that 18.5 million children are out of school and therefore, urged the stakeholders, community leaders, volunteers to rise up to this challenge to ensure that those children are back to school.

“This programme is targeted at children who are out of school. You know that out of school children is escalating year in, year out, today we have 18.5 million children who are out of school and we know what this portends for us as a nation and we have them all around us.

“Stakeholders, community leaders, volunteers and mothers association cannot continue to allow this to be, we need to stop this from escalating and that is why this gathering is important.

“All the stakeholders should collaborate to reduce it to the barest minimum.”

In her remarks, the Director of Social Mobilization, Ebonyi State Universal Basic Education, Mrs. Maria Oselebe said that the programme started in the year, 2020 during the COVID-19 period and  targets children who are out of school and seeking ways to bring them back.

She further noted that it is the responsibility of SUBEB to monitor the effectiveness of teaching and learning in various schools, calling on everybody to embrace the call to bring back out of school children because they are the future leaders of tomorrow.

“This programme started since 2020 during the period of COVID-19 and when you bring these children back, it is the responsibility of SUBEB to monitor the effectiveness of teaching and learning in various schools. so, it is the responsibility of everybody. When you play your own role, Federal Ministry of Education will play its role, SUBEB will play its own role, communities, mothers association, the teachers and head teachers will join hands together to bring out of school children back.

Also speaking, the Director of Planning, Research and Statistics, Ministry of Education, Mr. Emmanuel Agbafor encouraged the participants to be courageous and show passion in the task of bringing out of school children back for effective teaching and learning.

In an interview immediately after the training, Mr. Michael Onumara, Mbam Stephen and Nwibo James, speaking separately,  all applauded the efforts of UNICEF in ensuring that children who are out of school for one reason or the other, are restored back to be given quality education for a better future. 

They further added that school based management committee members and other stakeholders have played significant roles in this regard and have succeeded in bringing many children back to school.

The training featured group presentations on various topics such as, Importance of education, benefits of education, identification of out of school children, mother’s association, roles of community members on Back-to-School, community volunteers, healthy and safe learning environment, amongst others.

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