Nigeria has 6.9 million out of school children – Minister

Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari

The Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, said the number of out-of-school children has reduced from 10.1million in 2019 to 6.95 million in 2020.

Mr Adamu, who spoke at the 2020 Annual Ministerial briefing in Abuja on Thursday, said the reduction was through the Federal Government’s Better Education Service Delivery for All (BESDA) initiative.

The minister said BESDA initiative in 17 states had been responsible for an additional enrolment of 1,053,422 children

He said the ministry was working closely with the National Association of Proprietors and School Owners of Nigeria to reduce the number of out-of-school children.

He said the association had taken over one million out-of-school children off the street, with each private school sponsoring five pupils.

“Under the initiative of BESDA, the federal government secured a World Bank credit facility of 611million dollars to support 17 states in strengthening Universal Basic Education.

“The facility will also address the first pillar of the Ministerial Strategic Plan (MSP) on out-of-school children.

“So far, we have launched BESDA in 10 states namely: Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Ebonyi, Kano, Oyo, Yobe, Niger and Zamfara States.

“As of 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-of-school children from 10.1 million since May 2020 to 6,946,328 million,” he said.

Mr Adamu added that the adolescent girl initiative for learning and empowerment was also supported by the World Bank to deal with the challenges posed by adolescent girls who were out-of-school or had never been in school.

He said that a World Bank facility of 500 million dollars had been secured to ensure that these girls were taken off the street, trained and financially empowered to enable them live normal and quality lives.

On adult illiteracy, the minister noted that attention was given to the mass literacy sub-sector in the last one year.

“In 2019, we were able to lift one million Nigerians off shelve of adult illiterates and 900,000 have been taken off that bracket in 2020.

“In the last two years, 1,900,000 illiterates have been able to read and write in English or the three Nigerians languages through this effort. Our target of one million cannot be reached due to COVID-19.

“We are working on an instrument that will also make it an offence for any adult illiterate not to undertake any form of learning. Today’s illiterates will breed tomorrow’s out-of-school children,” he said.

Speaking, the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, said President Muhammadu Buhari had challenged the ministers and top government officials not to relent in making Nigerians know what they do.

Mr Mohammed said in view of this, the ministers were working hard in building, enlarging agricultural outputs for food security and export.

“In our stride to attain food sufficiency, power and transport and other infrastructural development, we are also working on expanding access to quality education, affordable healthcare, improve governance and security for all,’’ he added.

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