The Worrisome School Enrolment


Nigeria’s children of school age face a very bleak future as 40 percent or 10 million of them are out of school.

This is the startling statistics recently released jointly by the United Nations International Children Emergency Fund, UNICEF, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, UNESCO, United Nations Institute of Statistics and Nigeria’s Universal Basic Education Commission, UBEC.

Since this statistics cannot be faulted, coming from these credible agencies, it becomes worrisome that children between the age of six and fourteen are left to roam the streets or hawk when their peers are in school. What these unfortunate children would become in future can be better imagined.

It is dangerous to allow so many children to be out of school. Although the problem is more severe in the north, it is also prevalent in the south.

Economic and socio-cultural factors have been blamed for this development. Many parents cannot afford to send their children to even primary school, let alone secondary schools because of the pervasive poverty the economy and endemic corruption have inflicted on them.

The Universal Basic Education Commission which ought to address this problem has become a conduit pipe through which government officials siphon money into their private coffers.

When we add this dismal enrolment situation to the issue of graduates not finding jobs after leaving the university, what we have on our hands is a ticking time bomb that may explode soon.

These children we don’t train today will become the cannon fodder tomorrow to be used to cause mayhem as we are now witnessing in parts of the country.

We believe that if Nigerians are empowered, most extremely poor parents will be able to send their children to school. It has been argued over and over again that Nigeria could afford to give its citizens of school age free education from primary up to secondary school levels if the Federal Government musters the will to do so. The trillions government officials steal yearly could go a long way in providing qualitative education for our teeming children of school age if such thefts are stopped.

There should be concerted efforts by all stakeholders to address this poor school enrolment stuation in the country. We ignore this problem at our own peril. We can’t shy away from training our children and expect to be in the league of nations that are driven by technology and other innovations.

We glibly talk about Vision 2020 when we cannot lay the necessary foundation by investing in the education of all our children to actualise that lofty dream.

If we have been deluding ourselves all these years, this is the time for us to come to the realisation that our future depends on these children we are not ready to train today. And the only way to avoid that path of self-destruct is to ensure all children of school age are enrolled in schools now.

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