By Obinna Ogbonnaya, Abakaliki
The United Nations Children Fund, UNICEF in collaboration with the Ebonyi State Universal Basic Education Board, UBEB have inaugurated a 50-man committee made up of community leaders, youth leaders and women mobilisers in Ebonyi State to sensitise and enlighten parents on the need to enroll their children and wards into schools in early stage of life to enable the child be a better Nigerian.
Inaugurating the committee, the Ebonyi Local Government Council Chairperson, Mrs. Chinyere Nwogbaga represented by the Council Secretary, Mrs. Bibian Nwofoke expressed regret that while states and rural parents in States like Imo, Abia, Anambra and Enugu no longer talk about children school enrollment despite economic hardship but in Ebonyi the reverse is the case as millions of school children are not enrolled.
Mrs. Nwofoke noted that most parents in Ebonyi rural communities are yet to understand the importance and benefits of children school enrollment adding that rather than send them to school, they prefer their children and wards to work in their rice farms which she said hampers the future and upbringing of the children.
According to her; “while states like Anambra, Abia and Imo among others states in the South East and South South have all imbibed the culture of sending their children to school even those in the rural communities and low income people, it is shocking that in Ebonyi even those in the urban setting most often do not see the need of enrolling their house-helps into school”.
“Most of them that stays in the urban setting only send their own children to school leaving the house maids behind either to hawk for them or to stay at home and do house jobs”.
She further stated that in as much, the state government and UNICEF have taken up the task of ensuring that parents especially those in the rural communities enroll their children into school, effort should also be made to ensure that, guardians who pick up children from their parents from the villages are made to send them to school.
Earlier in an address, the UNICEF desk officer in the Universal Basic Education Board, UBEB, Mrs. Christogonus Nweke expressed regret that despite frantic effort by UNICEF and the state government parents in the state still send their children to different cities in Nigeria to either hawk or serve as house maid and urged the committee members to fight against such ills through sensitisation and enlightenment.
He noted that the Agency decided to step down the campaign to the different communities and villages using the community leaders adding that with th inauguration of the committee, the campaign would get to the grassroot and its dream achieved.
Mr. Nweke stated that according to a recent multiple indicator cluster survey in 2011, 57% of Ebonyi children do not access basic education enrollment while only 43% enroll adding that Ebonyi state government has made it compulsory for every child to go to school through its free education policy.
The Ohaozara local government education secretary, Mrs. Everlyn Ujebe said that in the LGA, only 1000 children registered for primary one and described the situation as unfortunate.