The United Nations Population Fund (UNPF) on Thursday expressed concern over the increase in the number of the out-of-school children in Nigeria.
UNPF made the observation at a workshop in Abeokuta on Civil Society Engagement on COVID-19 Response for Community Stakeholders.
The programme was organised for stakeholders in Abeokuta South and Ado-Odo-Ota Local Government Areas of the state.
The programme was organised in collaboration with the Planned Parenthood Federation of Nigeria (PPFN).
According to the Minister of State for Education, Mr Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, Nigeria has the highest number of out-of-school children in Sub-Sahara Africa, with over 10 million children affected.
PPFN’s Focal Person, Mrs Omotayo Adeyemo, noted that curbing the menace of this category of children in Nigeria required a collaboration between the government and the people.
Adeyemo called on the Federal Government to engage critical stakeholders in the nation’s education sector in proffering lasting solutions to the menace.
She noted that the programme was organised for community and religious leaders in both local governments, adding that the agency was working in five communities and 11 Primary Health Care centres in the affected council areas.
Fifty participants from both local governments were trained to develop action plans on how to reduce the effect of the COVID-19 in their communities, with regard to gender-based violence.
According to the focal person, quality education is a fundamental right of Nigerian child, adding that the government must intensify efforts to return the affected children to school.
“The children must get their rights as regards basic education. If those children are not sent to school, the effect on the community would be devastating.
“The criminal cases we have in the society are largely due to the lack of basic education.
“We all have parts to play in curbing this menace. It begins from the family and the community where this particular youths are staying.
“There are public schools where the adolescents can go to; there is free education in government public schools.
“If parents cannot afford private schools, let them send their children to the public schools,” she said.
Adeyemo attributed the reoccurring criminal cases in the nation to lack of education and the inability of the Nigerian child to access quality education.
She noted that government alone could not revert the trend, but should engage all the important stakeholders with a plan to rescue the situation.