About 13 million Nigerian kids have been identified to be out of school, according to figure by United Nations (UN) in 2018 as a result of the alarming rate in teenage pregnancy among girls, poverty, child labour, the demise of parents of some children, peer pressure, cultural and religious beliefs, environmental factors, insensitivity from the government and among others.
This abysmal rate in the country, Nigeria, which is revered as the Big Brother of Africa can be reduced if citizens hold government accountable of their campaign promises and every one member in the community takes responsibility in ensuring that children are taken back to schools to continue learning.
This assertion was disclosed on Wednesday at Eti-Osa Local Government Area during a sensitisation programme, organised by the Human Development Initiatives (HDI) in partnership with Mark Arthur Foundation with the presence of education stakeholders in Lagos State.
Senior Programme Officer for HDI, Ms Bolanle Dare, charged participants education monitors, stakeholders and representatives from the state government, State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB), School Board Members Committees (SBMCs), Parents’ Forums (PFs), Community Development Associations (CDAs), youth groups, among others both in the supply and demand sides to proffer solutions on how to tackle the menace of school-drop-out in the state and the country at large.
Ms Dare hinted that it is the responsibility of community stakeholders in making sure that no child in the community is left out of the educational system in the state.
However, she stressed that tackling that the scourge of school dropouts among children should not be the sole responsibility of the government adding that community members have a role to play in the fight against children illiteracy.
“It is the responsibility of Nigeria Governments (Federal, States and LGAs) to provide free quality basic education to all school-age children in Nigeria.
“Basic Education is compulsory for all school-age children in Nigeria, it is an offence for any parent to deny their children access to basic education. Basic education is free therefore, it is a criminal offence to charge a fee for basic education in Nigeria” she said.
Another narrative to the poor educational system is the lack of awareness of school project executions in most states in the country.
There have been reports in the media that school projects awarded to contractors were shoddily executed due to non-monitoring of such projects by the government and concerned stakeholders.
In 2018, the Lagos State Government were allocated with the sum of N2. 94 billion to execute critical UBE projects across the 20 LGAs in the state, although, to be fully completed.
However, Programme Officer, HDI, Mr Johnson Ibidapo said that it is the responsibility of residents in the communities and stakeholders to monitor and report any irregularities that they might have observed from contractors who are handling various UBE projects in their communities to the appropriate authorities.
Mr Ibidapo further explained that although some LGAs in the state may have not been receiving the desired attention from the state in renovating their school structures on like others, he, therefore urged members of the community not to relent in reporting to the authorities schools that need urgent attention for renovation or provision of more buildings as the case may be.
“Get involved in the monitoring of the Universal Basic Education (UBE) projects across beneficiary schools in the communities, LGAs and the State.
“Report deficiencies, failures and abnormalities in schools to appropriate authorities such as school principals, LGEA, SUBEB, Ministry of Education,” said Ibidapo.
Going forward, parents at the event have pledged to acquaint themselves with the various state’s UBE programmes and projects in the state, they also pledged to take responsibility in ensuring zero tolerance to child illiteracy in the state and the country.