By Obinna Ogbonnaya, Abakaliki –
Over 190 children who were purposed to be in school in 4 Ebonyi Local Government Areas have been identified to be out of school as a result of poverty, extortion by teachers, traditional believe among other issues.
Participants mainly, the clergy, town union leaders, youth organizations, parents and other groups during a training by the United Nations Children Fund, UNICEF in collaboration with the Ebonyi State Universal Education Board, UBEB and the National Population Commission on low school enrollment and birth registration in the Council Area described as worrisome the number of children out school in the communities.
Some of the participants who spoke to Leadership after the 2 day training held in the different communities in the state insisted that to ensure the end of low school enrollment and birth registration in the state, adequate sensitization and enlightenment campaign must be carried out in the different communities in the state.
One of them, a retired Head Teacher, Chief Nwafor Moses expressed concerned that in most of the rural schools in the state, there are only One teacher teaching over 200 pupils while the remaining teachers would be Parent Teachers Association PTA employed teachers adding that because non-qualified teachers in the government schools, parents prefer to send their children to private schools while majority do not see the need of enrolling them since there are no teachers.
He further noted that apart from the non-availability of the teachers, parents fail to enroll their children because of illegal levies imposed on them by the Head teachers and the state education Secretaries adding that such illegal levies has continued to hamper and ridicule the free basic education policy of the state government.
Another participant, Mr. Uguru Peter from Ohaukwu local government area of the state lamented that between 2008 and 2014, the National Population Commission through the state government approved the payment of N1500 for volunteers that would assist in the birth registration in the state but regretted that many of the council chairmen rather than pay the money embezzled the fund thereby forcing the volunteers to pull out of the programme.
The participants who urged the state government to investigate the allegation stated that for the number of children registered after birth to increase in the state, such policy must be introduced again as the number of the commission staff cannot reach to all the rural communities in the state.