Billy Graham Abel, Yola
UNICEF’s education specialist in Adamawa, Joel Isaiah Zutum, says there is a dearth of basic facilities in schools in Adamawa State and that there exist instances in some communities where over 241 students have access to only one pit toilet facility pointing out that this among other poor infrastructural and sanitary situation is responsible for the girl-child’s absence from school in view of her special needs.
Zutum said Adamawa has about 595,000 of the alarming statistics of out-of-school children in the North and unless the situation is reversed, it would spell a gloomy future for the younger generations.
Joel Isaiah Zutum, made the remarks at a three-day advocacy training for about 110 youths drawn from the 21 local governments of the state, in an event marking the Day of the African Child, in Yola, Adamawa State.
Zutum said: “UNICEF is advocating more children to be enrolled into schools especially the girl-child.
“Not just enrolment but also to call on government to take more responsibility and to also ignite more discussion among the youth and youth groups, so that when they get back to their communities, they would use their platforms to raise issues on why the girl-child needs to be in school.”
He pointed out that “education is one of the priority responsibility of government and we would want government to ensure that consumable materials are always available.
“We have visited schools where pupils have been subjected to pay some fees for the purchase of chalk, classroom registers, scheme of work, etc.
“The welfare of teachers must be catered for too because if we get the school furnished and all consumables are available but the people responsible for passing the knowledge are not motivated, then we would not achieve much.”
He explained further that, “you saw the figure, 241 students go to one toilet and most of them are pit toilets, no source of safe drinking water.
“Girls cannot stay in school because the toilets are not friendly to them at a particular time.
“The issue of girl-child education is important because Adamawa is in northern Nigeria and in Nigeria, majority of out-of- school children are in the North and Adamawa has a very large share of that number.
“We have about four hundred and ninety-five thousand out-of-school children and in that number, a large chunk is made up of girls.”
There will be a mass action in ten states which have an estimated eight million out of school children in the country and where an average enrollment rate is at only fifty seven per cent.
“These states include Bauchi, Niger, Katsina, Kano, Sokoto, Zamfara, Kebbi, Gombe, Adamawa, Taraba and the Federal Capital Territory (Abuja).”
The UNICEF-led youth advocacy group at the close of training took its advocacy to the Adamawa State governor, Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri.
The governor while receiving the group, reiterated his commitment to give top priority to education in the state in keeping with his campaign promises.
The governor who was represented by the Chief of Staff to Government House, Maxwell Gidado, said, that his government is committed to paying the counterpart funds in order to enable the Universal Basic Education Board access the necessary grants to fast track educational development in the state.
One of the participants at the training, Naila Bashir, summarised the lessons learnt saying: “We received training on education and national development, Gender and Girl-child Education, Effective Advocacy Strategy for Safety of the Girl-Child, Essential of Communication, among other lessons learnt.
“We will now be the ambassadors to transfer the values learnt to our local communities especially the need for strong advocacy for girl-child education.”
The three-day event saw UNICEF mobilise 110 youths drawn from diverse youth-based groups across the 21 local government areas of the state.