…as parents blame poverty for inability to educate kids
Segun Babatunde, Bauchi
United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) says despite the diverse importance of education, officially free and compulsory primary education, about 10.5 million of the country’s children aged 5 and 14 years are not in school.
The declaration was made by the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF), Nigeria office, as contained in a statement released to journalists in Bauchi Field Office.
UNICEF further lamented that “only 61 percent of 6-11 year-olds regularly attend primary school and only 35.6 percent of children aged 36-59 months receive early childhood education “.
According to UNICEF, “In the North of the country, the picture is even bleaker, with a net attendance rate of 53 percent. Getting out-of-school children back into education poses a massive challenge”.
It then declared that every child in Nigeria has a right to learn, irrespective of where he or she resides and no matter the situation of the environment.
In order to bring attention to the issue of Out of School children (OOSC) in Bauchi State, the UNICEF Bauchi field office is organising a media dialogue and a field trip to see some of the interventions it has made in the Sector.
However, during the field trip exercise on Monday for select journalists to Alkaleri Local Government Area of the state to interact with out-of-school children, members of relevant community structures, and parents/guardians, residents of communities in the area attributed dilapidated school structures, lack of school facilities and poverty as factors contributing to the low enrolment of children in schools.
The residents, who spoke to journalists during the assessment visit of out-of-school children in communities of Gunciguni and Masuri in Alkaleri Local Government Area of the state, highlighted some reasons why their children don’t go to school.
Some of the women who spoke to journalists in Masuri community on why the enrollment of children in schools was low, said that poverty is the reason many parents cannot send their children to school.
Hajiya Lami Ibrahim, a resident in the community, said that sending children to school was financially demanding on the family, adding that they have resorted to sending the children to hawk on the streets in order to provide for the family.
According to her, “We are basically farmers in this community and depend on farm proceeds to provide food for the family , but that cannot sustain the family for long. We cannot afford to send our children to school because it is financially demanding, so we rather send them to sell things in order to provide extra income for the family”.
Aisha Mohammed, a mother of six children and a second wife in Gunciguni corroborated Lami’s view, saying that poverty is a major factor why there are many out-of-school children in the community.
According to her, “parents cannot afford to buy school uniforms, textbooks and other school demands because there is no money for that. We are peasant farmers who do not make much from farming.
“There are lot of competing needs in the family like feeding, healthcare and others. Some of our husbands do not have a legitimate source of livelihood, so how can they train a child in school when they don’t have the means to do that”, she lamented.
The Community leader in Gunciguni community, Ali Sarkin Shanu said that during the rainy season, children in the community don’t go to school because of the leaking classrooms.
The community leader said, “The structure of the school is dilapidated, there is no water storage system, no toilet facilities, no tables and chairs for learning. During the season, our children do not go to school because of the condition of learning is not conducive for them. During that period, they go to farm” .
He called on the state government and other implementing partners to come to the aid of the community by reconstructing the structure of the school, provide facilities for the school as well as adequate manpower.
Reacting to the development, Director of School services SUBEB,Bauchi State, Korijo Buba Umar said that from the assessment in the communities visited, there is a positive development as there is improvement in the enrollment of children in schools in the community.
“Currently, the number of out of school children in the state have dropped drastically because there were a lot of intervention by the state government and other partners In the education sector which I believe will keep getting better with continued efforts in the sector”he said
Our Correspondent reports that from Bauchi Annual Schools Census data 2023, the state has 1,269,228 enrollment of primary school children, over 5,000 enrollment of students into junior secondary schools.
In Alkaleri Local Government Area, there is 67,081 enrollment of pupils and students into primary and secondary schools.