A non-governmental organization, Out of School Children Initiative in Nigeria (OSCIN), has taken up the responsibility of taking children off the streets and sends them to school to be responsible citizens for their community and the country at large.
Speaking with LEADERSHIP in Abuja, OSCIN president, Mrs Patience Uhunamure said that she decided to come up with the initiative when she looked around and found that most children in the nation’s capital are most times strole the streets at odd hours when they are supposed to be in schools. LEADERSHIP recalls that United Nations International Children’s Fund (UNICEF) as at August 2015 reported that no fewer than 10.5 million Nigerian children are out of school. According to Country Director, Jean Gough while meeting with Governor Mohammed Abubakar in Bauchi, UNICEF is collaborating with some other parties to strengthen the newly-introduced Quranic School System to reduce the number of out-of-school children.
Uhunamure said the passion to help children of the less privileged had been with her since her growing up years. According to her, OSCIN’s focus is to identify children who are out of school, meet with their parents and reach agreement on how the kids will go to school with the consent of the parents or guardians.
“Our focus is on children whose parents did not have the wherewithal to send them to school or probably there is no money to do so. We also beam our searchlight on orphans and street children and assist them. We meet with them, ask them questions and most times we follow them to their parents. After meeting the parents, we will sign a consent form and from there we look for a nearby school where the parents can monitor their wards. On our part, we make sure that we monitor the progress of such kids through constant visit to the schools,” she said.
At LEA Primary School Durumi 1 where OSCIN presented free educational materials to two pupils on its payroll, Shakolo Shayanze, a 7 year old boy and Queen Emmanuel, a 6 year old boy both in primary 1, Uhunamure said the gesture (which included presentation of bags and notebooks to the pupils) will not only bring relief to the parents of the pupils but will also make the children feel a sense of belonging among their peers and look positively to the future.
“We are here to assist the government because they cannot do it alone. I want to call on all stakeholders, wealthy individuals and groups to see what we can do to help the government to send these children to school. If we fail in this role, these children will turn against us tomorrow and terrorize the society but if we come together to help them, they will have a bright and promising future which invariably means that they will be taken off the streets and become important citizens.”
She added, “We are out to help the government by putting these children in school. In this situation, no amount is too small to contribute for these less privileged children to go to school. N500, N1000, N1500 can go a long way in enrolling them in school if we all contribute our little quota to send the children to school. At OSCIN, we empower the children by buying notebooks for them, buy bags and pay for their school fees. We should all understand the importance of sending children to school because basic education matters a lot. With basic education they can read and write”.
OSCIN which was formed in 2014 has sent more than six kids to school with the promise to send thousands to school in no distant future.