According to the Buhari Media Organisation (BMO) in a statement signed by its Chairman Niyi Akinsiju and Secretary Cassidy Madueke, the figure recently cited by the minister of education Adamu Adamu is more authentic than figures from any other source.
“In recent times, various figures have been quoted by different individuals and groups as the number of out-of-school children in the country without a recourse to the actual authorities.
“What we find surprising is that many have opted to ignore data supplied by the education ministry as far back as 2021 and prefer instead to hold on to outdated information for whatever reason.
“We recall that at the 2020 annual ministerial press briefing of the ministry addressed by Minister Adamu Adamu in January 2021, he was emphatic that ‘Nigeria now has 6.9 million out-of-school children contrary to the previous figure of 10.5m that was first released in 2015, but is still being cited by many individuals and groups.
” And only recently, the minister used the occasion of another ministerial briefing to emphasize that the number has since 2020 dropped to 6.9m as a result of some of the initiatives introduced by the President Muhammadu Buhari administration,” it added.
The group said that an initiative known as Better Education Service Delivery for All (BESDA) has been instrumental in improving enrolment in schools in many parts of the country.
“This initiative which was launched in 2018 and backed by a 611million dollars World Bank funding has focused on increasing school enrolment in 17 states which are considered as having the highest number of out-of-school children.
“Data obtained from the Education ministry show that in one year alone, a total of 1,053,422 out-of-school children were enrolled in schools in the 17 beneficiary States under the BESDA programme as follows: Adamawa, 25,714; Bauchi, 83,391; Borno, 62,336; Ebonyi, 65,471; Gombe, 52,600; Jigawa, 47,416; Kaduna, 39,091; Kano, 302434; Katsina, 26,555; Kebbi, 25,556; Niger, 73,568; Oyo, 40,007; Rivers, 22,782; Sokoto, 71,000; Taraba, 24,246; Yobe, 72,000 and Zamfara, 19,055.
“We also know that the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) has just kicked off the process of ascertaining the accurate number of out-of-school children as well as teachers in both private and public schools at basic education level across Nigeria.
“This is to enable the agency have accurate, verifiable and reliable data, especially as the last time such a headcount was done was in 2018.
“And we dare say, this is one of the reasons UNICEF is still holding on to an outdated figure of out-of-school children rather than the one that the education ministry has released since January 2021.”
BMO added that the ministry of education and its agencies were better placed than any individual or group to provide the most accurate data on school enrolment in the country.