Billy Graham Abel, Yola
Close to a million children of school age in Adamawa State are said to be out of school, concentrated in three local governments areas of Maiha, Song and Numan, with the girls constituting about 50 per cent of the figure.
This was made known by the Executive Director, African Centre for Leadership, Strategy and Development, Monday Osasah, at a press briefing over the weekend in Yola, the state capital.
The baseline survey conducted by the African Centre for Leadership, Strategy and Development (Centre LSD) on the number of out of school children in Adamawa State shows that about eight hundred eighty-six, six hundred and thirty-four thousand (886,634) of Adamawa’s children are out of school.
While implementing its projects, the Community-led Collective Action for Girl Education (C-CAGE) in three pilot local governments of Maiha, Song and Numan, it was gathered that 67.7%, 63.3% and 45%, respectively of girls are out of school in the three local governments under study.
The centre said that 51 per cent of girls of school age being out of school portends a bleak future for Adamawa State and Nigeria at large unless something serious is done about it.
Osasah said: “Recent statistics indicate that Nigeria has approximately 13 million out of school children, 60% of this number is located in northeastern Nigeria.
“The situation is exacerbated insurgency and insecurity in the region.
“The baseline study conducted by the centre which heralded the implementation of the C-CAGE project indicated that Adamawa has 51 per cent (886,634) out of school children.”
He explained that “in the three local governments areas where this project is being implemented, Maiha has the highest number of out of school girls with 66.7%, followed by Song with 63.3% and Numan with 45%.
“This implies than on the average over 50% of the girls of school age are not in school, the effect on the state and the country is huge and could be problematic.”
The centre, while commending the Governor Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri administration for initiating educational policies and projects like the payment of WAEC and NECO fees, eliminating the payment of school fees, opening doors for recruitment of two thousand teachers, verification of teachers credentials to ensure quality of teaching staff and the ongoing construction of more structures in the state, a move that could boost school enrollment in schools especially for girls, it also called on the state government to set up stringent monitoring processes to ensure the benefits of its policies are delivered to the ordinary citizens of the state.
The director of the centre called on the state government to “put proper monitoring mechanism in place to ensure that there is a complete and robust implementation of the free education programme across the state.
“The recruitment of the two thousand teachers should be based on best practice and devoid of politics to ensure that only qualified teachers are recruited to up the quality of education in the state.
“The posting of teachers after recruitment should not be skewed against the rural areas to ensure fairness and quality across the board.
“The state government should activate all SDG’s goals in the state and ensure no one child is left behind or denied his or her right to education especially the girl children.”
It also called for collective action from all citizens in advocating for the amendment of the Universal Basic Education Act to extend and fill in the gap and improve girl enrolment and retention in school through Senior Secondary School.