The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) has urged the Federal government to do more on child safety in North-East schools even as parents have shunned enrolment of their wards.
The theme of this year’s Day of the African Child is “A child-friendly, quality, free and compulsory education for all children in Africa” as Nigeria joins other African countries to mark the Day of the African Child.
Due to security challenges, numerous children currently have no access to schools in parts of the North, and particularly the North-East. Because of the violence, many parents are unwilling to enrol their daughters or are withdrawing those already in school.
Nigeria has 10.5 million out-of-school children, the world’s highest number (followed by Pakistan). About 60 per cent of those children are girls and most of them live in the North. Almost one out of every three primary school age children is out of school, and roughly one out of four junior secondary age children is out of school.
Schools have shut down over security reasons, and where schools in the affected areas still function, children and teachers are often afraid to attend. In comparatively safe areas in the North-East, schools are often overcrowded, understaffed and have insufficient teaching materials.
In a statement issued yesterday, UNICEF Representative, Jean Gough, said that the agency was supporting efforts of the Nigerian Government through its Girls’ Education Project implemented in the northern states, with funding from the UK Department for International Development (DFID). It aims to enroll an additional one million girls in school by 2020.
“Involving local communities in initiatives to safeguard education is crucial in protecting the children, the communities will know the primary concerns of parents, girls and boys. Together, they can develop networks for support to keep schools safe,” the statement said.