(From Ariwodola Idowu, NAN)
Governor Kayode Fayemi has restated the readiness of his administration to collaborate with the Federal Government and other relevant agencies on initiatives aimed at ensuring child protection in the state.
The governor, who stated this in Ado-Ekiti on Tuesday at the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Federal Government on “At Risk Children Initiative”, disclosed that the state recorded an increase of 20,000 in primary school enrolment, between 2018 and 2020, aside the increase recorded in secondary schools.
He said the main thrust of the initiative was to support children all over the country, build their capacity and ensure that their communities kept an eye on them, by respecting their rights and providing them with adequate security.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Olawale Fapohunda, signed the MoU on behalf of the state government, while Mrs Mariam Uwais, Special Adviser to the President on Social Investment, signed on behalf of the Federal Government.
The event was attended by the wife of the governor, Mrs Bisi Fayemi, Secretary to the State Government, Biodun Oyebanji, Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology, Dr Adebimpe Aderiye and Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Development, Alhaja Mariam Ogunlayi.
Gov Fayemi, who reiterated that the livelihoods of children remained the priority of his administration, emphasised that the state was facing some challenges on child education, like high drop-out rate in the rural communities, including many that are living with disabilities.
In its efforts to leave no one behind, he said, his administration would continue to ensure free and compulsory education for all residents of Ekiti in order to build a better, more equitable and prosperous society.
“It is really an opportunity for us to take this initiative further because working with children is not new to us in Ekiti and working with our young girls is a priority for this government, as we have always had a coordinated inter-ministerial approach to this issue, which is being strengthened by the conceptualization and projected implementation of this programme.
“That is why we have the Office of Wife of Governor that is critical to the implementation of this type of initiative, and why I am particularly personally interested.
“I know that just as the Wife of the Governor has said, we may not be in the top echelon of states that have out-of-school children, but we still have our own issues in relation to drop out rate, and out-of-school children, particularly in our rural communities.
“We also have our challenges with children with disability which we will critically address in the course of this initiative and I believe it will also assist us in strengthening our various institutions, essential to the implementation of this programme.
”Ours include social welfare, our early childhood education programme, our support to farmsteads and our agricultural belt, where many of our migrant communities are located in Ekiti and are affected by this immediate challenge that we want to tackle.
“I think it also speaks to the philosophy of our government if we have free and compulsory education right up to senior secondary school level, it is not just enough to leave it in the hands of those who voluntarily come to school, it is also a duty for us to seek out those who are not voluntarily responding to our free education,” he said.
Earlier, in her comments, the Wife of the Governor, Bisi Fayemi, disclosed that the initiative was a very exciting one aimed at ensuring that something was done about the millions of children who were out of school across the country.
Mrs Fayemi noted that even though Ekiti was one of the few states that enjoyed a significant level of educational uptake, the state still shared in the burden of out-of-school children, like every other state.
She explained further that the initiative was meant to ensure that strategies were put in place to “address the needs of these children”, to enable them to engage in productive endeavours that will make them reliable members of the society in the spirit of “live no one behind”.
Presenting the project to the governor, Uwais said the main thrust of the initiative was to support children all over the country, to build their capacity, and to ensure that the communities kept an eye on them, by ensuring their rights and providing them with adequate security.