In many northern parts of Nigeria, there has been huge growth in the rate of out-of-school children and whilst primary education is largely accessible and free, statistics illustrates that northern Nigeria has the highest cases of out-of-school children in the whole country. There are also reports that illustrate that one in every five out-of-school children in the world resides in Nigeria, mostly in the northern terrains. Envisaging this dilemma, The Minister of State Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba once noted that the present challenge that has hugely ravaged the country’s educational system has been characterized by level of illiteracy, as well as infrastructural underdevelopment.
Significantly, the mass violence and kidnappings in the north have forced numerous children out of school. While recent surveys illustrate that there has been a rapid increase in the truancy rate in Nigeria, where it has gone from 10.5 million to around 18 million, UNICEF’s survey claims that kidnappings, targeted violence, child marriages and early pregnancies have forced children, especially girls to be absent from school. Evidently, all these have immensely deteriorated the educational standards in the north.
EAA and UNICEF utilizing cash grants to ensure children back to school.
Though, the federal government of Nigeria recently set out plans to immensely reduce the out-of-school rate that has ravaged northern Nigeria, with a plan that is aimed at seeing through a 70 percent decrease in the out-of-school rate, which is a scheme to lift over 12 million children off the streets and take them back to school, Education Above All Foundation (EAA), in collaboration with the United Nations Children’s Emergency Funds (UNICEF) have commenced a partnership educational program that is determined to help more girls in Katsina state back to school. This program is called “Educate A Child”, where cash grants are being utilized to take out-of-school children back to the classrooms.
One of the recipients of this grant, a 12 year old Aisha Audi wanted to complete her education, despite the demise of her father but her hopes became barricaded, as she could not rejoin her classmates at the Hamcheta Model Primary School in Mani, due to the inability to purchase school materials like a uniform or paying the school fees. She said that her mother was going to let her start off selling goods to earn a living, noting that though her mother felt bad about this, she couldn’t control the situation. However, the mothers’ association, through Educate A Child (EAC) education partnership program by the Education Above All Foundation, in collaboration with UNICEF have helped Aisha out of this situation to actualize her dream of returning to school.
Mothers’ association tracking down truants, mobilizing them back to school.
The mothers’ association in Mani works closely towards tracking down out-of-school children, mobilizing philanthropists to enroll these children, especially girls back in school, as well as closely monitoring them to ensure these children complete their education. Schools, through the EAC education program have received a grant of N250, 000. The school-based management committee members and Centre-based management committee of Integrated Qur’anic schools have been trained and now tasked with tracking down out-of-school children, as well as mobilizing caregivers to help send them back to school.
Zainab Abdulsalam, Chairperson of the Mothers’ association in Mani Local Government Area noted that the schools that have received these grants have used it for the enhancement of students’ learning, like installing boreholes and purchasing educational materials. She further asserted that numerous out-of-school children like Aisha have been tracked down and helped back to school. Receiving schools have also been very vocal about how instrumental the received grants have helped create a more conducive learning environment for their students, where classrooms have been roofed, toilets built, as well as procuring instructional learning materials for teachers and students.
Many disadvantaged children still excluded from their rights to education.
Over 300,000 pupils have benefitted from this scheme and have returned back to school, through EAC’s grant financing. However, reports claim that over 500,000 children in Katsina are still currently out of school due to poverty, social constructions and recurrent insecurities, amongst other factors. Whist the Katsina state governor, Aminu Bello Masari was full of praise for the EAC education program, Rahama Farah, UNICEF’s field chief in Kano, noted that though there has been an increased success in primary enrollment and completion in Katsina state, noted that many disadvantaged children were still excluded from their right to education and beseeched the state government to work towards fully eradicating this challenge.