NIGERIA runs the risk of seeing a dramatic growth in illiteracy and a rise in the number of out-of-school children after the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) warned that an increasing number of parents are keeping their kids at home due to security fears.
At the moment, Nigeria has 10.3m out-of-school children, which is the highest such number in the world and the country is also the poverty capital of planet earth. However, according to Unicef, this figure could rise as an increasing number of parents are keeping their children away from school in response to the spate of insecurity, killings and kidnapping taking place across the country.
Of late, kidnapping has become very rife in Nigeria as armed men, mainly Fulani have taken over many of the country’s motorways. They adduct passengers and hold them hostage in forest camps until ransoms are paid and if their families do not pay up, they kill them and dump their bodies in rivers.
There has also been a surge in armed banditry, particularly across northern Nigeria, with states like Zamfara, Katsina, Kaduna and Borno among the most affected. Unicef raised the alarm that parents are now terrified to send their children to school due to insecurity in the country, especially girls, who have been victims of kidnapping while at school.
Peter Kawkins, Unicef representative in Nigeria, said about 2,000 youths across 10 Nigerian states, including Abuja, presented petitions to their governors, parliamentarians, policy-makers and other influential persons in a mass effort to draw attention to the need to act on commitments to increasing access to safe, quality education for all children, especially girls. He revealed the details while speaking at this year’s Day of the African Child on a topic themed Child Rights in all Situations, Including During Humanitarian Crises.
Mr Kawkins said: “The Nigerian campaign for access to quality education will hold the newly-elected government officials at all levels accountable for their campaign promises to provide equitable access to free, safe and quality education for every child, especially the girl child, in Nigeria. The 10 states where the mass actions are taking place – Bauchi, Niger, Katsina, Kano, Sokoto, Zamfara, Kebbi, Gombe, Adamawa, Taraba and the Federal Capital Territory have about 8m children not in school and an average enrolment rate of only 57%.
“Schools should be a safe place for children, one in which they can get quality education that will put them on the path to a secured future.” However, the presidency said that President Muhammadu Buhari and state governors across the northwest geo-political zone were working out a strategic plan to end this spare of insurgency.