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18.3 million children out of school in Nigeria — UNICEF

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The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has revealed that a staggering 18.3 million children are out of school in Nigeria.

This disturbing figure positions Nigeria as the country with the highest number of out-of-school children globally.

Dr Tusher Rane, the Chief of Field Office, UNICEF Bauchi State, who disclosed this lamented that the education system in Nigeria faces challenges in retaining students.

He made this known in a goodwill message at a two-day Regional Stakeholders Engagement Meeting on the Out-of-School Children and the Retention, Transition and Completion Models in Bauchi, Gombe and Adamawa states, held in Gombe.

Rane said that a whooping 10.2 million primary school-age children and an additional 8.1 million at the junior secondary level are out of school in the country.

“Unfortunately, this positions Nigeria with the challenge of having the largest number of out-of-school children globally,” he said.

“Only 63 percent of children of primary school age children regularly attend school.

“According to the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey 2021, only 84 percent of children effectively transition to junior secondary education after primary school completion.

“Less than 50 percent – about 2.4 million – of the 5.9 million children who commence Primary Grade 1 annually in Nigeria persist to the conclusion of Junior Secondary Grade 3.

“An analysis of the MICS reports between 2011 and 2021 shows an increase in dropout rates across all genders at the primary level especially in the northern part of the country.

“Specifically, the primary-level dropout rate rose from 1% in 2011 to 5% in 2021. A similar upward trend is noticeable when considering wealth quintiles.

“For students belonging to the poorest wealth quintile, the primary-level dropout rate increased from 2% in 2011 to 6% in 2021. Among students in the richest wealth quintile, the dropout rate also showed an increase, rising from 1% in 2011 to 4% in 2021.

“This consistent pattern suggests that, compared to a decade ago, the education system in Nigeria faces challenges in retaining students and ensuring their continued education across all the regions and the problem persists in the northeast and northwest.

“Numerous obstacles prevent consistent school attendance, timely enrolment, and completion of education for all Nigerian children.

“Some of these obstacles include inadequate evidence-based policy and planning, limited budget allocation, significant shortages of qualified teachers and classrooms, poor infrastructure, cultural norms, health and safety worries, and dependence on children for income and household tasks”.

Speaking further, Rane said UNICEF was deeply worried with the rate of out-of-school children, and low learning achievement in the country, especially in the north-east and north-west regions.

“In collaboration with the Universal Basic Education Commission, we have developed the “National Framework of Action to Reduce the Number of Out-of-School Children in Nigeria” and the“ Retention, Transition, and Completion Model” which ensures inclusive and equitable quality education and promotes lifelong learning opportunities for all,” he disclosed.

Rane said the two-day two days would reveal models to guide your respective states in confronting the OOSC phenomenon, strengthening the community accountability and mobilization, use of innovations and technologies to increase access to quality learning and financing of OOSC in the state.

“I encourage open dialogue, active participation, and the sharing of insights during the two-day engagement. I envisage that after this meeting, we will have clear, targeted, and state-specific strategies that will further ensure that we reduce the rate of out-of-school children and enhance retention, transition, and completion,” he urged.

According to a press release from the Bauchi Field Office, the north east meeting UNICEF would engage stakeholders in the north east to expedite efforts on reducing the number of Out of out-of-school children and increase retention, transition, and completion of adolescents in secondary schools.

“Specifically, the meeting will build a collective commitment on creating and implementing models for the reduction of the number of out of school children and increasing retention, transition and completion of adolescent boys and girls in secondary education,’ it stated.

 

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