Senate President, Bukola Saraki, has described the over 10 million children in the country who are out of school as not only alarming but a ticking time bomb.
Addressing a United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) delegation, led by its country representative, Mohammed Malick Fall, Saraki said: “the legislature is committed to doing all it can to address the issue of out- of-school children through funding and material resources.”
He lamented that Nigeria has the highest number of out-of-school children in the world. “This represents approximately 20 per cent of the world’s population of children that are not in school.
“Having 10 million children out of school is literally a ticking time bomb for our nation. An uneducated population will be locked in a cycle of poverty for their entire lives. Additionally, these children could constitute the next generation of suicide bombers and terrorists. In this regard, education is a national security priority,” Saraki said.
He said the 8th National Assembly is determined to make laws and appropriate resources needed to drastically reduce the menace.
“The Senate is already working with few state governments who are yet to domesticate the Child’s Rights Act. We are determined to also improve on this and work together to see how best to reduce drastically, the level of illiteracy among our people, especially from the preliminary stage.
“The quality of our education must be in line with best global practices. We will continue to work closely together with you. To support your programmes, we plan to organise an inclusive roundtable discussion, where the impediments in our education system will be identified and a plan of action designed to eliminate them. I am confident that your contributions at that stage will be highly welcome.”
The Senate president endorsed the school enrollment campaign of UNICEF in the country and thanked its country representative for their years of exemplary work in education and other areas. “UNICEF is one of the leading organisations working to aid children in the North East.
“Their work in the region is routinely celebrated by government officials and camp leaders,” Saraki said. Earlier, Mr. Fall encouraged the Senate President to endorse UNICEF campaign for Nigeria’s 2017 school enrollment programme. This year’s theme is: “Education matters…Every Nigerian child deserves to be in school.”
He stated that UNICEF’s school enrolment campaign seeks to partner the education stakeholders at the state level to ensure the impact reaches grassroots communities.
The UNICEF representative said the campaign also seeks to underscore the country’s commitment to free and compulsory education and to encourage states to prioritise education.
He thanked the Senate President and the Senate for the outstanding partnership offered over the years in the areas of child health and education. Fall lamented that with the statistics of about 10.5million children out of school in Nigeria, “such number pose a lot of danger to the growth and development of the country.”
He said that urgent attention, by governments at all level, is needed to address the trend, “we need additional resources and this support requires stronger partnership with legislation.”