The federal government is targeting 57,500 vulnerable children and youth as it begins implementation of At-Risk-Children Programme (ARC-P) in Sokoto State.
ARC-P is an initiative of the Federal Government of Nigeria designed to comprehensively address the cross-cutting concerns of children and young adults at risk thereby providing them with a life of dignity.
In line with the coordination strategy of the Programme, over one thousand, 150 youth facilitators drawn from the 23 local government areas of Sokoto State were being trained on basic education, vocational and life skills that will enable them provide mentorship and guidance to the primary beneficiaries of the At-Risk-Children Programme.
Fielding questions from journalists on Tuesday in Sokoto shortly after addressing the youth facilitators, Special Adviser to the President on Social Investments, Mrs Maryam Uwais, who is also the National Lead of ARC-P, said the objective of the three-week training programme was to enhance the knowledge and understanding of the youth facilitators in basic subject matters and life skills to be able to coach the ARC-P primary beneficiaries with a view to supporting them to be reintegrated back to the communities.
Uwais noted that the intervention in Sokoto was crucial in view of the rising numbers of out-of-school-children and young people who are exposed to various form of vulnerability in the state, stressing that all hands must be on deck to effectively address the challenge.
“I am really happy that we are engaging in Sokoto because it is one of the States with the highest numbers of vulnerable Children and youth. I am sure you saw the recent MPI results. We all have a responsibility because It’s not all about Government.
“It’s very important that we all put our hands together to support these children in whatever way we can so that they can come out and become useful to themselves, their communities and the society at large.
“They have been out on the streets for too long and we need to give them an opportunity to live a productive life. We need to give them hope, we need to give them skills. We need to make them assets to their families. Many of them out there may have the cure to cancer in their brains, but they don’t have the opportunities to harness their potentials.
“But by the grace of God, we are working to make a huge difference in the lives of our primary beneficiaries and we appeal to all, including the media to be part of this humanitarian initiative to give hope to these children who through no fault of theirs have found themselves in a disadvantaged position in life,” the presidential aide said.
Uwais said each of the Youth facilitators trained will be assigned at least 50 children whom they are expected to mentor, guide and monitor closely to provide feedback on their progress and challenges towards curbing deprivations and child poverty.
The presidential aide disclosed plans to introduce incentivisation interventions for parents, caregivers and gatekeepers as part of strategies to get the full support and cooperation needed for the smooth implementation of the Programme to achieve set objectives.
“So what we are doing now is to train these youth facilitators to mentor, guide and protect the children. We are also hoping to introduce feeding as soon as we get the funds because feeding will be an incentive to keep them in the programme. We also want to incentivise the parents and the gatekeepers to come out with packages for them.
“We know that these parents and guidance love their children but it appears they are yet to fully appreciate the benefits of Western Education. We are working hard to make them understand that foundational literacy and numeracy in this day and age have become critical to helping the children engage in other areas to become productive to their families and humanity in general,” Uwais added.
State Lead of ARC-P in Sokoto State, Professor Aliyu Gobir, thanked the Federal Government for introducing the initiative in the State, saying the programme targets children and young people between the ages of 5 to 24, who are exposed to vulnerabilities such as drug abuse and child poverty, adding that the aim is to forge inclusiveness by adequately empowering the beneficiaries to take ownership of their lives.
The three-week training programme which started two weeks ago is currently holding at the Umaru Ali Shinkafi Polytechnic in Sokoto.
The training manual covers critical areas such as basic literacy and Numeracy, health, digital and vocational skills, enterpreneurship, agriculture, monitoring and evaluation as well as sports and life skills.