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UNICEF supports Kano's declaration of state of emergency on education

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The United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF), has declared its full support to the Kano state declaration of state of emergency on education, describing it as a step towards the right direction.

Speaking during the event to mark the declaration at the Open Arena, Government House, Kano, UNICEF Chef of Field Office in Kano, Mr. Rahama Rihood Mohammed Farah, in his goodwill message entitled: “REBUILDING HOPE THROUGH QUALITY EDUCATION,” congratulated Governor Abba Kabir Yusuf for taking the bold decision to declare a state of emergency in the kano State Education sector.

He said: “education is a driver of development; regrettably, like several countries in sub-Saharan Africa, the education sector in Nigeria faces barriers. These barriers have impeded progress in the sector, putting a clog in the wheel of progress and weakening the role that education should play as an engine of development.

He further described education as the bedrock of any thriving society, adding that it empowers individuals, fuels innovation, and drives economic growth.

Farah said, however, according to the statistics MICS Survey 2021, in Kano, the completion rates for primary and junior secondary schools stand at 69% and 64%, respectively.

“This number drops drastically at the senior secondary level, with only 49% of children completing their education. This steep decline is a wake-up call that Kano State cannot afford to ignore.

“According to a UNESCO 2021 report, the world faces unprecedented education crisis, and as the most populous nation in Africa, Nigeria accounts for about15% of the global total of Out of school children which means in Nigeria, one in every three children are Out of school,” he added.

Farah noted that a look at a few indices for Kano State revealed that the stateaccounts for nearly 10% of the total number of out of school children in Nigeria.

He said the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MIICS) 2021 estimates that Kano has 32% children of primary age out of school; 26% children of Junior Secondary School age out of school; and 37% of senior secondary school age children are out of school, compared to 2015, the trend for out of school children in Kano has seen an upward swing.

On learning poverty, Farah said the crisis does not end with school attendance, “learning poverty exacerbates the challenges faced. Based on the MICS 2021 data, across Nigeria, of children aged seven to 14, only 27% of children have foundational reading skills, and a mere 25% have foundational numeracy skills.

” In Kano, these figures are even more alarming: only 10% of children in Kano demonstrate foundational reading skills, and just 11% show foundational numeracy skills. This means that even if children are in school, they are not learning.”

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He, however, called for action, insisting that, “these statistics paint a bleak picture, but they also serve as an urgent call for immediate action.
We cannot allow one child to be left behind. Education is not just a fundamental right; it is a critical investment in the Kano state’s future.

“As the Kano State Government takes and deliberate on concerted action to tackle the barriers to quality education, I urge that particular attention should be focused on the following: Education is a right. Increased Access to education must be facilitated through increased net enrollment to reduce the number of out of school children while also focusing on the important element of participation.

“Equity issues need to be tackled by ensuring equal opportunities for vulnerable children/groups, namely, Almajiri, girls; children with disabilities; children of nomadic farmers and herdsmen, and children from poor and very poor families. Rural and poor children have completion rates far below the national average, while their urban and wealthier peers are far much better. Children from the poorest quintile are particularly disadvantaged, with completion rates much lower than other groups.”

Farah maintained that, “the data show that while the challenge of out of school children needs to be tackled urgently, the greater barrier to education is that even for children enrolled in schools, no quality learning is taking pace, resulting in poor learning outcomes.

“Inadequate competency of teachers have contributed to gaps in quality education. Teachers are the backbone of the education system. We must invest in their professional development and provide them with the resources and support they need to deliver quality education.

“Whereas the global recommended benchmark for domestic spending on education as a percentage of GDP is between 4 to 6 per cent, Nigeria’s spending on education is regressive and mis-aligned with international benchmarks.

“In terms of public financing, in Kano state there is a challenge in the gap between allocated funds to education and what eventually get released and actually spent on approved budget items.

“I appeal to your Excellency to ensure that this gap is closed during your administration…We must implement targeted interventions to improve foundational reading and numeracy skills. Early childhood education programs and remedial classes can help bridge the learning gaps.

“Investment in Infrastructure: We need to invest in building and renovating schools, and in providing these schools with clean water and sanitation services, especially in rural areas, to provide a conducive learning environment for all children.”

He, however, concluded by for collective responsibility and partnership to ensure that every child in Kano has the opportunity to learn, grow, and achieve full potential.

“Rebuilding hope through quality education requires a collective effort from all stakeholders—government, educators, parents, and the community. We must address the root causes of these disparities and work towards creating an inclusive, equitable, and high-quality education system,” he said.

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