BY ISAIAH BENJAMIN ,Kaduna
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) at a meeting with media executive drawn from 10 states have agreed to renew their commitment towards intensifying school enrolment and birth registration of children as part of efforts to reduce the alarming rate of out of school children in Nigeria.
UNICEF Education Specialist, Azuka Menkiti, said at the opening of the National Enrolment Drive Planning Meeting in Kaduna, that Nigerian has 10.5 million out of school children, the highest in the world.
Menkiti added that more girls are out of school than boys, particularly in the northern states, which was in contrast with southern part of the country were boys are dropping out of school.
She identified socio cultural norms and practices, teacher quantity and quality, infrastructure and governance as factors responsible for making schools unattractive for parents and children.
She also said that 70 per cent of children in Nigeria are not registered for birth certificate, saying the development denied children required legal documents and access to other services where birth certificate remains crucial. .
“Every year, since 2012, UNICEF and state partners organise enrolment drive activities in the five Girls Education Focused states; Bauchi, Niger, Katsina, Sokoto and Zamfara to bring additional one million girls to school.
“The success of the campaign led to the development of National Enrolment Drive Framework to address the menace of out of school children in Nigeria, “she said.
The education specialist explained that the meeting was designed to build collective responsibility for reaching out of school children in Nigeria and to agree on possible partnership, support roles and responsibilities.
She expressed optimism that with collective action, more children would be enrolled in school.
“This could be achieved if our legislators should ensure that 100 children are enrolled in school in their various constituencies; traditional rulers sensitize their subjects and religious leaders change negative perspective on education.
“We will equally record significant improvement in school enrolment if the media creates the needed awareness and build momentum for collective responsibility of every stakeholder.
On birth registration, Sharon, Oladiji, Child Protection Specialist, UNICEF Abuja, said that the greatest number of birth in Africa takes place in Nigeria, adding that between now and 2030, 136 million babies would be born in Nigeria.
According to her, awareness campaign on the significance of birth registration is very crucial in ensuring that every unregistered child is registered to prepare grounds for the unborn.
“Birth certificate is a critical document for the Nigerian child and all stakeholders must support ongoing effort to get all children registered.
“The media has been playing a key role in this regard. For example, in 2016, media executive were mobilized to support massive birth registration in Kebbi and Adamawa state.
“The effort paid off with over one million children registered in both state. Let’s do that again this year, because there is stillroom to do more.”
The meeting was organized by Federal Ministry of Education, Universal Basic Education Commission in collaboration with UNICEF.
The media executives were drawn from Adamawa, Bauchi, Katsina, Niger, Zamfara, Sokoto, Yobe, Borno, Kebbi and Ebonyi state.