NIGERIA currently accounts for about 11% of unregistered children across West Africa according to a recent report published by the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) looking into the problem of street urchins.
Sitting on a time bomb, Nigeria has the highest number of out-of-school children in the world, with 10.5m school age not in education. This has spurred a crisis, especially in northern Nigeria, as these urchins, known as almajiris are cannon fodder for terrorist groups, kidnapping gangs and are regularly used to perpetuate violence.
According to Unicef, the African continent has the lowest birth registration rate in the world with only 44% of children registered at birth and millions of deaths also go uncounted each year. Unicef’s Nigeria country representative, Peter Hawkins, said birth registration was a one-off event that gives every child a unique identity which would give them better access to vital services like health, education, and social protection.
Mr Hawkins said: “Every child counts and we must ensure that we count every child, so that they can best benefit from important services like health and education. We need to work together to ensure effective coordination to make this happen.
“Functional systems that allow for the sharing of data is necessary to push the birth registration rate in Nigeria up and make sure every child is counted.”