International Day of Education: Nigeria’s out-of-school rate alarming, says group

As the world commemorates the fifth International Day of Education, Save the Children International is concerned about the increasing number of out-of-school children in Nigeria.

According to the UNICEF, the number of out of school children has increased from 10.5 million to 18.5 million in 2022 – that means, there are millions of good reasons to step up investment in education.

The theme of this year’s International Day of Education (IDE) is, “To invest in people, prioritize education”, that builds on the global momentum generated by the UN Transforming Education Summit in September 2022, calling for the maintenance of strong political mobilization around education and charting the way to translate commitments and global initiatives into action.

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Access to school is not only essential for children’s wellbeing and ability to thrive here and now. It is also a prerequisite for children to acquire the knowledge and skills that are central for building a life of opportunities.

Save the Children International (SCI) Nigeria calls upon the government to ensure accessible, inclusive, safe, quality and free primary and secondary education that promotes lifelong learning opportunities for all children to realize and release their full potentials.

To this end, we reiterate our demands for the Nigerian government’s fulfilment of H.E. President Muhammadu Buhari’s commitment at the GPE Global Education Summit to increase education funding to 14% by 2022, 16.7% in 2023, 20% by 2024, and 22.5% by 2025.

Therefore, SCI calls upon governments, donors, partners, the international community and key stakeholders to stand by their commitments to prioritize investment in education and educational transformation towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

Onorakwa Godgift, 16 years from Ogoja, Cross River State, said “Most of my classmates arrive at school hungry and thirsty having to trek over a long distance every day to school.

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This means our social and emotional needs are not being met, which is detrimental to our learning and behaviours. This must change through more education funding, which will enable us to achieve our potential and become responsible people tomorrow.

And as we reflect and commemorate the annual IDE; we sincerely hope our leaders will be more committed to prioritizing education.”

While we commend the Nigerian government for launching National Plan on Financing Safe Schools (2023 – 2026), we do appeal for its full implementation to guarantee the safety and security of children, teachers, school personnel and facilities.

Rt. Hon. Ibrahim Zanna Sunoma, Deputy Speaker of the National Children Parliament, said “Almajiri is also a child, there should be a deliberate effort by parents, government and NGOs in investing in their formal education. Education must be for all including children with disability and children on the street. If they are not left out, believe me, we can change our tomorrow for the better. All hands must be on deck to ensure all children have free and quality education at all levels.”

Famari Barro, Country Director, Save the Children International (SCI) Nigeria said, “From all available records, children constitute a great number of the Nigerian population, and they are the future of the society.

“Any investment in this category of the population through prioritizing education will not only propel the economic development of Nigeria but also guarantee an enduring peace, stability, accelerated growth and sustainable development of the country.”

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