Out of school children: An illiterate is bound to give birth to another illiterate – Oshiomhole

Sharon EboesomiMarch 20, 20245 min

Senator Idiat says that about 20 million Nigerian children are out of school which represent 10 percent of the estimated Nigerian population of 200 million people on Nigeria.

“An illiterate is bound to give birth to another illiterate” - Oshiomhole calls for need to tackle out of school children

Senator Adams Oshiomhole (APC, Edo North) has called for an urgent need to tackle issues of out-of-school children in the country as it poses a huge security risk to citizens.

Oshiomhole made this remark while contributing to a motion on the “Compelling Need to tackle the Challenge of Out of School Children in Nigeria,” sponsored by Senator Idiat Adebule Oluranti (APC, Lagos West) during Wednesday’s plenary.

Emphasising the importance of education for every citizen, he said, “I don’t think we need any tutorial to remind us that he or she who didn’t have the opportunity or was denied the opportunity to go to school, is destined to be poor forever. An illiterate young man or woman is bound to give birth to another illiterate child which will lead to a dynasty of the poor constituting a risk to the rich.

“Today in Nigeria, we can see and we are all witnesses that inequality and abject poverty anywhere has constituted a huge security risk to everyone in Nigeria. it is clear that every Nigerian child needs to go ti school.”

In her lead debate, Senator Idiat noted that the issue of out-of-school children has become worrisome, given the 2022 report of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) that about 20 million Nigerian children are out of school which represents 10 per cent of the estimated Nigerian population of 200 million people on Nigeria.

According to her, this represents the highest number of out-of-school children from any country globally.

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The lawmaker made it known that despite the Ministry of Education disputing the figure, it is generally agreed that whatever the real figures, the issue of out-of-school children has become an albatross on the neck of the Nigerian State that must be dealt with urgently.

The social impacts of having about 20 million out of school children in the Nigerian State will include impediment to achieving some of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, especially goal (4) which is to ensure inclusiveness and equitable quality of education and promotion of lifelong learning opportunities for all. 

“It will provide an easy pool for recruitment into criminal gangs, banditry and terrorism which are the biggest security issues the Nigerian State has been dealing with for many years.

“Achievement of national economic justice and inclusiveness will further be jeopardised, and many more Nigerians may become ill-equipped to climb out of the poverty bracket and other social problems that might arise from this condition are gender inequality, early/child marriage, general socio-political instability,” she added.

Idiat further stressed that the past successive administrations made several efforts to deal with the issue of out-of-school children including the deployment of home-grown school feeding programs by the Muhammadu Buhari administration and supported with other programmes 

All these efforts according to her have had little impact on the surging number of out-of-school children, thereby calling for the need for new thinking and a more aggressive strategy to deal with this menace. 

When all the institutions concerned are committed to their responsibilities, the menace of out-of-school children would be overcome because the situation is of concern to the Federal Government of Nigeria.”

Following the debate on the motion, the Senate called on the Ministry of Education and its related parastatals and agencies such as the Universal Basic Education stakeholders including non-governmental organisations to bring up new strategies to effectively deal with out-of-school children and rekindle the national consciousness through sensitisation and advocacy on the importance of education to the growth and development of the country and the benefits of having a majority educated population.

It mandated its Committee on Education (Basic & Secondary) to engage the Federal Ministry of Education to pay special attention to the issue to drastically reduce the number.

It further urged governments at all levels to implement targeted intervention programmes that will address all the factors militating against free access to quality and basic education particularly, multidimensional poverty and insecurity.

The Red Chamber equally urged the Judiciary in the 36 States of the Federation to take steps towards setting up mobile courts for the enforcement of the UBE ACT as well as set a time limit of two years for the diligent implementation of the UBE Act as stipulated in section 2 (2).

Sharon Eboesomi

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