The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has charged the Nigerian government to address barriers responsible for the increasing number of out-of-school children in the country.
UNICEF Country Representative to Nigeria, Mr Peter Hawkins said this when he featured on the News Agency of Nigeria Forum, a special interview programme, in Abuja.
Hawkins identified poverty, proximity to school, and inadequate Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) facilities, among others, as factors hindering retention in school and the completion of education in the country.
According to him, one of the biggest problems is the reduction of the number of schools from basic to post basic level, especially for the girls.
“What you find is a village where the schools are full of girls and boys and it is incredible, it is fantastic.
“But immediately they have to go to junior secondary education, you see a massive drop in enrollment and going to school.
“Because of security concerns, distance concerns; there’s poverty concerns and so on and so forth, as one.
“Two is the issue of access to quality education and you see it is in many communities, especially rural communities, can they afford to let the children go to school?
“Now, Nigeria is very good at its free education, basic education is free for all.
“But it is the transport to the school and, when you get to the schools, there’s the uniform; whether it is the books and all of these unintended consequences that are all costs that are there.
“So, we need to find how to reduce those barriers, making the school closer to the villages is an obvious way.
“The third is that many rural communities don’t have the means to sustain their children.
” The UNICEF official said that parents in rural areas, therefore, resolved to send their children to the towns with the hope of receiving some sort of learning.
He also identified the menace of Almajiri (pupil of non formal Qur’anic school) in parts of the country as one of the reasons for the increasing number of out-of-school children.
“And we know that the phenomenon of the Almajiri in different parts of the country has perpetrated a vast number of children who are out-of-school; who are learning but not the full scope of the learning.
“Spiritual learning is fantastic and we should encourage it, but it needs to be complemented by numeracy and literacy, to ensure that the child has it in the right environment.
” On the conflicting figures of out-of-school children by UNICEF and the Federal Ministry of Education, Hawkins said that the Multi-Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) put the out-of-school number at 10.2 million.
He said the figure was produced by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) and other relevant agencies, hence stood by it.
According to him, all the figures have been produced by the government; the MICS is by the NBS of Nigeria.
“The Statistician-General agrees and produced those figures; we support them in doing it and give them the technical and financial support to be able to do it.
“We also support Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) to produce the figures for out-of-school children at basic education level.
“So the figure of that is 10.2 million and that is agreed and that is the UBEC figure; 8.5 million in secondary education is the agreed figure that the Ministry of Education produced.
” According to Hawkins, the most important issue to deal with is not the figures but the impact it would have on the children.
Heads of secondary schools in Kwara have commended Gov. AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq achievement in turning around learning environment and improving teachers welfare in the state.
The principals made the commendation in Ilorin on Wednesday during an open engagement with AbdulRazaq at the Goverment House to feel their pulse on government’s focus on basic education.
This is contained in a statement by the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Mr Rafiu Ajakaye.
The statement quoted that over 300 school principals across the 16 local government areas of the state attended the meeting along with some key stakeholders from across the education sector in the state.
The teachers commended the introduction of KwaraLEARN which, they said, was truly impactful, adding that the administration’s interventions have been spread across all parts of the state in a way never seen before.
The teachers, who acknowledged the improvements in their wages and teaching environment, however called on the governor to consider restoring boarding facilities which died a few years ago.
They also appealed to AbdulRazaq to end the pay disparities between teachers in basic classes and their senior secondary school counterparts which he inherited.
The Principal of Ilorin Grammar School, Hajia Muslimat Abdullahi, said the school was one of the schools which benefited from comprehensive renovation of schools under AbdulRazaq’s administration.
“Our school benefitted from not just a few renovations but total renovation of the school.
I also want to express our gratitude to you for the sense of humility and commitment to the welfare of the teachers and students,” she said.
The Principal of Community Junior Secondary School, Ipetu-Igbomina in Irepodun Local Government Area, Mr Babatunde Adegboyega, said the administration has given a befitting facelift to schools while doing its best to promote welfare.
“I want to appreciate your good gesture for the promotion implemented, the welfare packages on salaries as well as changing the facelift of schools through renovation,” Adegboyega said.
The Principal of Queen Elizabeth Senior Secondary School Ilorin, Mrs Sidikat Taye-Lawal, also commended AbdulRazaq for his prompt interventions on issues affecting the school.
“On behalf of the old students of Queen Elizabeth School of which I am one of them, thank you for transforming Queen Elizabeth School to a modern secondary school through the road network.
” We want to appreciate you again for your care and love for the students on exchange programme because I remember last year I was in Minna, Niger State, for the Conference of Principals of Exchange Schools and Kwara State was ranked the best in the programme,” she said.
Mr Umar Abubakar, the Principal of Senior Secondary School Kanko, Shonga District in Edu Local Government Area, said the trajectory of basic education has changed for good since the governor came on board.
Malam Balla Sa’ad, another principal from Islamiyah College, Patigi, described AbdulRazaq as a workaholic governor who has committed so much resources to improve basic education.
Sa’ad however called for the recruitment of more science and languages teachers as well as non-teaching staff, provision of more textbooks in core subjects, in-service training for teachers and improved security network of schools.
ThevPermanent Secretary, Ministry of Education and Human Capital Development, Mrs Mary Adeosun, said the governor has been exemplary in his commitment to education which, she said, mirrors his passion for the future of the state.
On his part, the Chairman of SUBEB, Prof. Shehu Adaramaja, described the interactive session as historic in the state.
He said the challenges faced by teachers would be resolved, but called for patience and understanding of the teachers.
Adaramaja also said pending promotion arrears would soon be implemented, recalling that the administration had similarly fixed some of the promotion arrears it inherited without any political colouration.
The SUBEB boss said training and retraining of teachers has been paramount to the administration, especially with the renewed cordial relationship between UBEC and SUBEB.
Responding, AbdulRazaq acknowledged all the issues raised by the teachers and said his administration remain committed to total revolution of the education sector for Kwara to reclaim its place in Nigeria.
“We have introduced KwaraLEARN programme and I thank you all for embracing the programme.
That’s one of the paths to bringing Kwara back on top in Northern Nigeria and the rest of the country.
“The investment the government and you are making today may not show immediately but it is something that will speak for all of us later in the future.
“I have listened carefully to all the issues of promotions, leave bonuses, uniforms in schools, non-academic staff employment, textbooks, harmonisation between TESCOM and SUBEB salary, in-service trainings, seminars, security in schools, unity schools and exchange students within the state.
“Equipping laboratories in our schools, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) facilities in schools, backlog of salaries, girl-child education, encroachment of school properties and building of shops in front of schools.
“These are part of the issues raised today and we will dissect them and take them one after the other,” the governor assured.
The House of Representatives Ad hoc Committee on Basic Education has lauded the Kwara Government for the efficient use of basic education grants to the state.
The Chairman of the committee, Prof. Julius Ihonvbere, gave the commendation on Tuesday in Ilorin at the end of a two-day oversight visit to Kwara to inspect the completed and ongoing UBEC-SUBEB projects.
Ihonvbere who was in the company of other members of the committee said:”what we we have seen so far in Kwara is of high quality and satisfactory.
”There is evidence of focus and commitment, and a clear interest in promoting basic education and empowering our children to survive in an increasingly complex technology driven global system.
”I think the best way to appreciate what is going on is to have the proper understanding of how it used to be, and we’ve seen a lot in Kwara.
“It is not always that we find a leadership like Gov. Abdulrahman AbdulRazaq that understands basic education and its value to national growth and development.
”If the basics, that is, the foundation, is contaminated and corrupted, what it produces can never promote peace, stability, growth and development anywhere in the world, that is why basic education is very critical,” he said.
The committee chairman added that states found to have diverted the UBEC grants would be sanctioned, while those that utilised them effectively would be rewarded.
”There are states that have collected marching grants from UBEC and have not deployed them to basic education.
”A few (of the states) have jettisoned the action plans of UBEC; they are doing something else with the money while some have done wishy-washy works.
“There are penalties for states where UBEC allocated critical infrastructure to some state governments but are abandoned.
”We are amending the UBEC Act so that UBEC can retrieve such facilities and put them to public use.
“Secondly, we are looking at ways to compel compliance with the law of the land; a situation whereby states that have not accessed the marching grant or have accessed it but used it wrongly will face some penalties.
” “At the level of the committee, the National Assembly and the UBEC, states that utilized UBEC grants perfectly like Kwara will get additional support as a reward, so that it will encourage them to do more,” Ihonvbere added.
Also speaking, the Chairman Kwara SUBEB, Prof. Sheu Adaramaja said the school projects covered renovation, construction, and comprehensive remodelling of various structures across at least 605 public schools in the state, including provision of furniture, public toilets, and water facilities.
He said the turnaround of the education sector under Governor AbdulRazaq had led to increase in students’ enrolment.
He decried how hundreds of classrooms were left dilapidated under the previous administrations.
“The situation before was so pathetic that nobody wanted to put their children in public schools.
”But the story is different now.
Enrolment of pupils into government owned schools has now increased,” Adaramaja said.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that some of the schools the committee visited included Ogele LGEA Primary School, Ogele, Otte LGEA Primary School Otte-Oja (both in Asa Local Government area) and Sheikh Alimi Junior Secondary School (Ilorin West).
Other schools visited were Amoyo Junior Secondary School (Ifelodun); Gaa-Akanbi Junior Secondary School (Ilorin South); Shao LGEA Primary School, Shao (Moro); and Adeta UBEC Model Smart School in Ilorin West local government of the State.
NAN also reports that some of the members of the committee on the oversight visit were Mayowa Akinfolarin; Bashir Dawudu; Oluyemi Taiwo; Mufutau Egberongbe and Ganiyu Olododo.
Others included Sylvester Ogbaga; Usman Abdullahi; Peter Owolasi; and Bukola Oyewo.
UBEC was represented during the tour by Dr. Jimmy Equensen and Mr Yissa Yakubu.
NAN reports that on Nov. 5, 2020, Kwara received N7.1 million grants from the UBEC, the first time since 2013 when the state was blacklisted from the national scheme.
The governor’s Chief Press Secretary, Mr Rafiu Ajakaye, made this known in Ilorin on Thursday.
According to him, the development represents a historic feat for Gov. Abdulrazaq who has spent the last one year working to reposition basic education in the state, beginning with the payment of N450m diverted funds which had brought Kwara under the hammer of the UBEC.
Prof. Musa Maitafsir, the Director, National Teachers’ Institute (NTI), Kaduna, says it will build the capacity of 5,000 teachers across Nigeria.
Maitafsir disclosed this in an Interview with the News Agency of Nigeria on Sunday in Abuja.
The Director said that the gesture followed the approval of the exercise by the Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu.
He stated that the exercise was part of the 2022 appropriated funds released to the Institute under the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Maitafsir said: “Over the years, NTI ha been very active in carrying out this primary assignment based in the Act no.
7 of 1978. “The act mandates the Institute to train and retrain Nigerian teachers using distance learning techniques.
” He also said that the Institute had commenced the 2022 Nigeria Communication Commission (NCC), Education Support Fund for Digital Literacy training of Nigerian teachers.
According to him, the Institute had also commenced the 2021 UBEC Basic Education Support Fund across the country.
“NTI had also started the Digital Literacy Programme of Adolescent Girls Initiative for Learning Empoweent (AGILE) projets in Kebbi and Katsina states,” the NTI CEO added.
Maitafsir also said that various capital and constituency training workshops across some National Assembly constituencies in the nation were ongoing.
He said,”the Institute has put in place all the necessary mechanisms that will ensure successful and impactful training workshops.
“This is for a truly effective and valuable approach to teaching and learning that teachers of today desire to excel in their jobs.
” Maitafsir commended the Federal Government for according priority to the teaching profession and teacher education since the beginning of the present administration.
He vowed,”we in the Institute would continue to do our best in discharging our mandate creditably.
The Director-General National of the National Teachers’ Institute (NTI), Prof. Musa Maitafsir has called on the Federal Government to sanction illegal teacher training institutions in the country.
Maitafsir made the call on Friday in Abuja on the sidelines of the 2022 Nationwide Capacity Building Teacher Training Workshop organized by the institute.
He decried, ”many unauthorized organizations have hijacked the training of teachers at the expense of mandated and professional institutions in the country.
“There is proliferation of private firms with no business in education and mandate to train teachers, but patronized by state and federal government agencies in training teachers at the detriment of the institutions established by laws.
” Maitafsir urged that the earlier these firms are regulated, the better teaching profession will be saved from intruders in the business of teachers production.
The Director- General said, ”over the years , the institute has been active in the training in line with the mandate and federal government act of 1978 that established it .
“ We have designed to train over 2000 Nigerian teachers this year , they will be introduced to the techniques of learning recoveries through Basic Education Support Funds from UBEC, “ Already, 2000 teachers from Kebbi and Sokoto states had received a similar training by the institute in collaboration with the Commonwealth in 2021,’’ he said.
Maitafsir further said 100 teachers would receive training on digital literacy this year apart from 148 teachers already trained by the institute in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Education.
He stated that the institute had orgainsed a train -the- trainers capacity building workshop for distance learning system centre managers in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states.
“ The same training will be extended to over 500 teachers in this type of training this year,’’ the D-G assured.
Maitfasir said that the institute had trained over 69,000 students to become qualified and certified teachers through NCE, BED, and PGD programmes by Distance learning system across the country.
On collaborations with Sustainable Development Goals Office, (SDGs), Maitafsir said that the institute has concluded arrangements to train 1,850 teachers on Information and Communication skills, effective classroom management, language and communication skills.
He thanked the Federal and state governments as well as development partners for their contributions towards improving the quality of teacher education in the country.
The Katsina State Government has renovated more than 7,000 primary and secondary schools in the state.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the renovation of the schools is in partnership with the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC).
Gov. Aminu Masari made this known on Thursday in Katsina while receiving former members of the state House of Assembly who were on a courtesy visit.
He explained that N30 billion was spent on the rehabilitation of the schools across the 34 Local Government Areas of the state.
The governor added that the state government has employed 5,000 teachers and promoted all the teachers who had not been promoted for nine years.
According to Masari, these are part of his administration’s effort towards enhancing the teaching and learning processes in the state.
He said that the enrolment of primary school pupils had increased from one million to more than 2.2 million between 2015 and this year.
He said this was achieved because of his administration’s strategies in the education sector.
The governor said that his government had also spent N15 billion on the construction of drainages in Katsina Metropolitan Area, to tackle flooding.
He said that the administration was spending N4 billion yearly on the same project, saying that the government, in collaboration with the World Bank, had also spent more than N50 billion in tackling flooding and gully erosion.
The governor said the fund was spent on tackling flooding and gully erosion in Katsina, Jibia, Malumfashi and Funtua Local Government Areas.
The National Association of Seadogs, Sahara Deck Abuja City Centre, has called on government at all levels to enforce the compulsory education policy, to tackle problem of out-of-school children.
Mr Olamide Oni, the association’s head, made the call on Thursday in Abuja at a news conference to commemorate the 2022 International Literacy Day, with the theme: “Transforming Literacy learning Spaces.
’’ He said that the association planned to take children off the street by sponsoring their education up to senior secondary school.
Oni said that the gesture was to help reduce the statistics from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), that over 52,000 children were currently out of school in Abuja.
He added that the statistics further showed that out of 40.8 million school aged children in Nigeria, 10.2 million children were estimated to be out of school.
“Right now in Nigeria, the only compulsory education is primary school, but the law is not really being enforced, government must enforce and ensure that every child is in school.
“There is need to put some measures in place to make sure that we do not have street hawkers , kids who are meant to be in school are out selling wares for their parents.
“If there are sanctions for defaulters, I think we can take a lot of kids from the streets.
“The government also needs to invest in education, what goes to our education every year is a paltry sum compared to what we project for the entire running of the country in a year.
’’ Oni said the association has been running the ‘Adopt-a-child’ project to address the issue of out of school children within the FCT.
He said the project had adopted Karu orphanage home and donated books, computers and air conditioners to create a conducive learning environment for the kids.
Oni said to mark the 2022 Literacy Day, NAS Sahara Deck opted to donate some reading and writing materials including writing boards for 10 classrooms in Kuje. He said that the donation was in view of the fact that public schools in the Abuja suburbs lacked adequate learning materials.
“Sahara Deck under my leadership would also engage FCDA and UBEC to increase school enrolment to take more children away from the streets and sponsor them up to senior secondary school of learning.
‘’ Mr Chike Onyia, an official of the association, said citizens must augment government’s effort in providing education because government was not doing enough.
“We are advocating that the government takes up its responsibility as we are also intervening to make sure that these kids are given a better future and the good education they require,’’ he said.
Onyia said that the group was working on establishing a platform where Nigerians could visit and contribute to helping children go to school.
Mr Stanley Nwankwo, Public Relations Officer of the association, said the adopt a child project was a bold move to take a good number of street kids back to school.
Nwankwo said members of the confraternity contributed to the children’s tuition fees and learning materials.
“As an advocacy organization, we are nudging and urging relevant stakeholders and authorities to actually key in and then do what they ought to do,’’ he added.
Mr Obiekwe Amaechi, an elder member of Sahara Deck, said in spite of high number of births, there was no sustainable plan for their education either by parents or government.
Amaechi said that there was need to put in place a long term solution to the problem.
“We are trying to put up a system that will outlive all of us here, that is the long term solution that we are bringing on board.
“This is because basic education makes a lot of difference in the life of a child and once you miss it at the primary level you probably will have lost that person’s life and the person becomes useless.
“Part of the issues we are suffering today is as a result of negligence, because we have not done what we were supposed to do in terms of giving basic education to our people.
“Once children drop out, anything negative can happen; so we are trying to put in place a long term sustainable system that will encourage other citizens play complementary roles.
Prof. Suleiman Khalid, Chairman, Kebbi State Universal Basic Education Board (KBSUBEB), said that the board had stepped-up efforts to return 750,000 out-of-school children to classroom across the state.
Khalid announced the plan of the board when a delegation on Better Education Service Delivery for All (BESDA) Implementation Support Team from Abuja paid a courtesy visit on Gov. Atiku Bagudu in Government House, Birnin Kebbi on Wednesday.
The chairman said 86,000 out-of-school children were returned to school in 2021 across the state, adding that in 2022, it was planned that 750,000 of such children would be returned to school.
“These, among others, are some of the incredible achievements we have recorded sequel to the sustained support of Gov. Abubakar Atiku Bagudu,” he said.
Receiving the delegation, Gov. Bagudu restated his commitment to adequately fund education at all levels in the state, while appreciating the successes recorded in returning out-of-school children to classes in the state under the project.
While assuring of the readiness of his administration to logically and judiciously deploy resources to achieve better results, Bagudu observed that the myriad of interventions by the federal and Kebbi state governments had positively opened the fortunes of education in the state.
“These interventions had really helped to arrest the hitherto high level of decay in the educational institutions in the state.
Let me acknowledge that BESDA had also enabled the state to do what it should have done earlier, this is a wake up call.
“I am delighted that SUBEB in the state has been doing very well, I want to assure that more will be done.
“Kebbi is successfully implementing many intervention projects with the Federal Government, World Bank and other agencies.
“Education planning depends on statistics, I want to direct those in charge to be mindful of the sanctity of data,” Bagudu directed.
The Team Leader, Dr Bala Zakari who is also the Deputy Executive Secretary, Technical, UBEC Abuja, said BESDA was a result-oriented project under the Federal Ministry of Education expected to end next month.
He explained that it was a four-year programme that had received tremendous support from Kebbi State Government.
Zakari also lauded the state for the support and cooperation it gave during the just concluded National Personnel Audit, adding that BESDA was targeting out-of-school children, to get them back to school.
The National Implementation Adviser, BESDA, Dr Dabo Adamu, stated that Kebbi remained one of the best BESDA states in the country, assuring that it was why the state government earned $5 miliion after the first NBS verification.
“The state will earn more during the forthcoming second leg of the exercise.
I, therefore, want to request His Excellency to improve financial support to Kebbi SUBEB to achieve optimum result,” he advised.
Some stakeholders in the education sector in the North-East have identified poor school infrastructure as the major bane militating against delivery of quality education at basic level in the region.
They also enumerated lack of good remuneration of teachers as factor behind poor academic performances.
They stakeholders including educationalists, parents and civil society activists spoke while responding to a survey by the News Agency of Nigeria in Bauchi, Damaturu, Maiduguri and Gombe.
Mr Mohammed Yunusa, an educationists in Damaturu dismmsed the state of public primary schools in the state as ‘pathetic’.
He said most of the schools, especially those in the rural areas lack good infrastructure, teaching and instructional materials.
He said the classrooms has been crowded, a situation which forced pupils to take lesson under tree shades.
“In one of the school with over 2,000 registered pupils, its condition is terrible.
“The school needs urgent intervention to upgrade existing structures and construct new ones to accommodate the population,” he said.
Mega School YobeMalam Abdullahi Ali, a resident of Yadin-Buni in Gujba Local Government Area of Yobe, said many primary schools vandalised by Boko Haram insurgents had been rehabilitated.
He, however, said the schools had not been put to use, a trend which overstretched the few functional schools in the area.
He also decried shortage of teachers in the schools due to their locations and vulnerability to security threats, adding that, “teachers decline posting to such vulnerable schools for fear of the insurgents”.
Malam Abdul-Rahman Aminu, who corroborated earlier opinion, said the problem was further compounded by lack of qualified teachers to teach in the schools.
He said teachers in such schools could not put in their best in view of the poor remuneration and working conditions.
A teacher, who pleaded anonymity decried the poor renumeration, noting that it resulted poor performances in the schools.
She said the salary of N27,000 for teachers was below the N30,000 national minimum wage, adding the take-home pay is demoralising to the teachers.
“The salary is meager and unattractive that cannot sustain the life of a teacher,” she said.
Newly constructed classroom, MaiduguriFurthermore; Mr Abdullahi Yelwa, a lecturer with the Department of Crime Management and Control (CMC), Abubakar Tatari Ali Polytechnic, Bauchi, said the remuneration of teachers at the basic level was not attractive.
According to him, poor remuneration of teachers and deplorable condition of primary schools is affecting the foundation of education in the country.
He attributed the deplorable condition of the schools to poor funding of Local Education Authorities (LEAs) by respective state governments.
“Before, primary education has been fully supported by local governments through LEAs, because the people know who to hold accountable for successes or failure of education at the grassroots.
“Presently; the local government councils are not receiving their statutory allocation in the name of Joint Account, thereby making it impossible for them to fund education at basic level.
“The establisment of the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) and State Universal Education Board (SUBEB) caused more damage than the expected positive outcome in the education sector,” he said.
The lecturer advocated for the review of UBEC programme as part of measures to reinvigorate the basic education sector.
To address the problem, the state governments in the region had initiated viable infrastructure and teacher development programmes towards raising standard in the sector.
Mega school, Gombe In Borno; the state government had executed 194 school infrastructure projects in the past three years.
According to official document, the projects include rehabilitation, completion and construction of new 21 mega primary, secondary and technical colleges across the 27 local government areas of the state.
It showed that 33 of the projects had been executed in Askira Uba; eight in Bama, six in Bayo, six in Biu, nine in Chibok, two in Damboa, two in Guzamala and eight in Gwoza.
Others were 12 school projects in Hawul; 25 in Jere, five in Kaga, 19 in Konduga, four in Kwaya Kusar, six in Mafa, one in Mobbar, 48 in Maiduguri, four in Monguno, four in Ngala and two in Gubio.
The government also distributed 221,000 assorted text books to the schools.
Also, Mohammed Jibrin, Chairman of the Nigeri Union of Teachers (NUT) in the state, commended Gov. Babagana Zulum for approving new minimum wage for teachers.
He said the gesture would motivate the teachers, adding that good remuneration was necessary in getting qualified teachers.
“The teachers are impressed as it would improve teaching and learning process in the state.
“In Borno, the government has done well in area of infrastructure, what we need now is more qualified teachers to manage our schools,” Jibrin said.
Mega school, GombeIn Gombe, the state government says it has renovated 715 basic and post schools, constructed 612 classrooms and 10 administrative blocks in 10 schools.
Mr Babaji Babadidi, Executive Chairman, Gombe State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB), reiterated government commitment towards improvement of teachers’ welfare He said the board was working towards the implementation of the teacher promotion, adding that the state recorded 539,831 pupils enrollment in 12,637 schools across the state.
According to him, the government has recruited qualified teachers to address shortage of manpower in the schools.
This, he would encouraged school enrollment and reduce the number of out-of-school children in the state.
, In the same vein; Yobe government has constructed seven mega primary and secondary schools across the major towns in the state to decongest classrooms, create enabling teaching and learning environment.
The state government also constituted a technical committee on basic and secondary education to rejuvenate the sector.
For his part; Bello urged government at all levels to increase funding to the education sector to encourage infrastructure and teacher development programmes.
“The state governments should invest heavily and demonstrate interest in education because you cannot say education is compulsory at the basic level and it is not available”.
The Federal Government says it is taking practical steps to address the problem of drug and substance abuse, among vulnerable young people using the instrumentality of its At-Risk-Children Programme(ARC-P).
Mrs Maryam Uwais, Special Adviser to the President on Social Investments, Mrs Maryam Uwais, who is also the National Lead of ARC-P, disclosed this is a statement on Tuesday in Abuja.
ARC-P is an initiative of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration facilitated by the Office of the Vice President.
Uwais, who spoke at the opening of a two-day Stakeholders’ Workshop to inaugurate the implementation of ARC-P in Niger, regretted the spate of substance abuse among young people across the country.
She said that the Federal Government, working with the NDLEA, UNODC and other relevant stakeholders, was making the necessary Interventions to discourage the illicit and distressing habit and practice.
Uwais said that with the support of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency(NDLEA), ARC-P had since created a national desk that was working with the state offices of the programme to sensitise young people on the many dangers of substance abuse.
According to her, the programme is also putting in place support structures to assist and rehabilitate those who are already addicted.
“I should mention that substance abuse is like the elephant in the room in efforts to tackle the vulnerabilities associated with youth.
“ We find too many young people, including women indulging in this unacceptable behavior even in our rural communities.
“Those who cannot afford the expensive heroine and cocaine quickly go for cheaper alternatives that are readily available.
“Interestingly, in ARC-P, we have a very senior, experienced and vibrant official from NDLEA who has been accompanying us to engage youths already using illicit drugs.
”(This is) with a view to dissuading them from the unwholesome practice by providing them with viable alternatives in the form of skills acquisition to enable them become productive.
’’ The presidential aide, who made a presentation on the roadmap and objectives of ARC-P to the stakeholders in Niger, said the programme was anchored on seven pillars.
She said that the pillars were strategically designed to empower the beneficiaries with basic education and life skills that would help them productively engage and take ownership of their lives.
“We are not looking at replacing what is happening in primary schools rather we are working with UBEC, using their Master Trainers on an intense curriculum that introduces basic literacy and numeracy to these children.
“It is important for those who have never been to school to connect with classroom activities so this ‘pre-induction’ interim course facilitates a basic appreciation of the critical elements for such children.
“Again, let me emphasise that we are not trying to take away the Islamic education already being taught the children currently in Tsangaya schools because Islamic knowledge is critical to our faith, imbibing the foundational values for life.
“We are only trying to ensure that they are empowered with the knowledge that would enable them to become more productive in a rapidly developed and highly competitive world.
“It is important that the children have skills to help them brace up to the challenges of this high-tech era,” she said.
In her remarks, Wife of the Governor of Niger, Dr Amina Bello, appreciated Buhari for the ARC-P initiative which birthed the partnership in addressing the plight of out-of-school children and vulnerable youth in the state.
Bello expressed optimism that ARC-P would have a great impact in Niger as she projected that over 105 vulnerable children would benefit from the programme in the first two stages of implementation She decried the high-level of substance abuse by young people in Niger, expressing confidence that much of the problem would be addressed with the ARC-P strategic Intervention.
Ahmed Matane, Secretary to the Government of Niger State, was among top government officials who attended the opening of the two-day workshop.