The Federal Government on Monday said about 25.3 million Nigerian children and youths are out of school across the country.
To reduce this figure, the government said it plans to enrol about 2. 9 million pupils annually in four years to reduce the figure of out-of-school children in Nigeria.
Nigeria currently has the highest number of out-of-school children in the world with 11. 4 million out – of – school children out of the 20 million worldwide.
Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, said 60 per cent of the 11.4 million out-of-school children in Nigeria are girls.
Adamu, who said this at the presentation of “Education for change: a Ministerial Strategic Plan (2016-2019) to stakeholders in Abuja, said only 3.1 million or 17 per cent nomadic children of school-age had access to basic education despite decades of intervention.
He therefore said government would urgently raise the national Net Enrolment Rate (NER) to ensure that are enrolled in basic education schools in the next four years.
The Minister said: “About 25.3 million students at all levels of education are out- of- school in the country.
“Nigeria has the highest number of out of school children in the world with 11. 4 million out- of-school children of the 20 million worldwide. These include the girl-child, Almajiri-child, children of nomadic pastoralists and migrant fishermen and more recently the children displaced by the Boko Haram insurgency.
“60% of the 11.4 million out-of-school children in Nigeria are girls. Only a fraction (17%) of the 3.1 million nomadic children of school-age has access to basic education despite decades of intervention. Similarly, only a small proportion of the FME’s 20120 estimate of 9.5 million Almajiri children have access to any form of basic education.
“An increasing number of displaced children (1 million) are being forced out of school in the insurgency-stricken states. These figures suggest that the educational process has given these groups of marginalized children very little access to education.
“For the 11.4 million out-of-school children the most urgent concern is raising the national Net Enrolment Rate (NER) to ensure that all of them are enrolled in basic education schools in the next four years. To achieve this target, the government planes to enrol, 2, 875,000 pupils annually for the next four years.
“The FME will come up with more effective strategies for engaging with states in addressing the problem of escalating numbers of out-of-school children including where necessary, the use of targeted funding that deliberately addresses the factors of exclusion.”
Adamu said the government would renovate the schools destroyed by Boko Haram and construct additional 71, 875 classrooms annually for the next four years to accommodate the pupils.
The minister also said the government would provide additional 71, 875 qualified teachers through the deployment of the 14 per cent of the new teachers to be recruited by the federal government annually to cater for the anticipated increase in pupils’ enrolment.
“The government will renovate the schools destroyed by Boko Haram and construct additional 71, 875 classrooms annually for the next four years to accommodate the anticipated increase in enrollment of out-of-school children.
“Provide additional 71, 875 qualified teachers through the deployment of the 14% of the new teachers to be recruited by the federal government annually to cater for the anticipated increase in pupils’ enrolment.
“Raise the current enrolment of girls in the basic education schools by 1.5 million girls annually for the next four years if the 6 million girls currently out of school are to be provided with access to basic education as required by the UBE law.
“Deploy 37, 500 qualified female teachers, (or 7.5% of the 500,000 new teachers to be recruited by the federal government annually), to serve as role models for female pupils/students; and determine the amount of resources in terms of the learning materials and other facilities, as specified in UBEC’s school norms and standards, required for training the Education For All (EFA) goals,” he added.
Earlier, Minister of State for Education, Prof. Anthony Anwukah, said the education sector needed strengthening for Nigeria to meet goal four of the SDG.
According to Anwukah, the efficient and effective implementation of the Strategic Plan when finalized by all levels of governments and stakeholders would offer Nigerians the means to optimize opportunities, create solutions and find new paths to a better future.
He said: “For Nigeria to meet the targets of the SDG 4, the education sector needs strengthening, our dilapidated schools must be provided with befitting infrastructure to become learner-friendly for all learners, including girls, the vulnerable and those with special needs.
“We must recruit and re-train existing teachers for quality delivery. Every child, girl or boy must not only enroll in school but must complete the full cycle of basic education and must be seen to learn. Our tertiary institutions must be citadels of learning that foster innovation to meet the needs of the workforce, strengthen research capacities and advance knowledge by increasing higher education opportunities for young people.
“It is important also to say that education for change must meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet the needs of their own times.”