Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Douye Diri, has said an estimated 250,000 out-of-school children in the state was alarming.
He has therefore charged parents, traditional rulers and community leaders to join hands with the government to ensure a reversal of the situation.
Governor Diri spoke on Tuesday in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa capital, during the launch of a national campaign on out-of-school children organized by the Federal Ministry of Education.
In a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Daniel Alabrah, the governor said his administration will do its part to ensure that education was accessible to every child of school age in the state and urged parents and community leaders to encourage their wards to enrol in schools.
He said the state government has continued to support free primary and secondary education in the state with the purchase of uniforms and other instructional materials.
Lamenting the number of out-of-school children in the state despite an existing law to check the menace, he implored the relevant ministries to ensure that the law was publicized and implemented to the letter.
He also called on the state House of Assembly to oversight its laws to ensure they are implemented.
Diri commended the Federal Ministry of Education for bringing the campaign to Bayelsa, saying the people of the state and the Niger Delta region will benefit from the initiative.
His words: “A law was passed by the Bayelsa State House of Assembly on this matter in 2018. So, Mr. Minister, Bayelsa State had started addressing the issues long before now. But your coming is key as it has opened our eyes to the level of out-of-school children in our state.
“The issue is mostly about implementation. We have the laws to ensure that our children are educated. This law has to be implemented across all our communities. The Ministries of Information and Education must do all within their powers to ensure that the public is aware of this law and it is implemented.
“It is unbelievable that a law like this was enacted and assented to by a sitting Governor. Yet we have out-of-school children.
“Let me use this opportunity to call on parents to ensure that they take advantage of the provisions of government. There is free primary education. Uniforms and other instructional materials are being provided by government. So, why won’t parents send their children to school?
“As a state, we will continue to prioritize education and have a paradigm shift that will be beyond certificates. We have introduced technical education and by our third anniversary we will commission some of the schools.”
In his remarks, the Minister of State for Education, Goodluck Nanah-Opiah, said education was a collective responsibility and called on all stakeholders to join forces to eradicate the menace of out-of-school children in the interest of the country.
He said the Federal Ministry of Education has put in place mechanisms to ensure that education was accessible to children of school age and appealed to the state government to continue to prioritize education.
The Minister lauded the Bayelsa government for its investment in the education sector, urging it not to relent.
Earlier, when he received the Minister in his office, Governor Diri called on the federal government to establish more tertiary institutions in the state to enhance and expand the frontiers of education.
He also urged the federal government to release its share of educational counterpart funds to the state.
“As we speak, Bayelsa has done its counterpart funding up till 2022 and now we are eagerly awaiting the federal government counterpart funding for 2022. Help us prevail on the Universal Basic Education Commission to fast-track its contribution to the fund to ensure that our educational requirements are met. As we speak now, we are even prepared for our counterpart funding for 2023.”