By Asmau Ahmad
The United Nations Children Emergency Fund is expected to develop a model to tackle the out-of-school menace in Nigeria by 2027.
Though the number of out-of-school children as of May 2023, cannot officially be verified by our correspondent at the time of filing this report, a 2022 report by UNESCO estimated that Nigeria currently has approximately 20 million out-of-school children.
But the Nigerian government argues that the country only accounts for 12.4% of the total number of out-of-school children in sub-Saharan Africa.
Experts, however, noted that while UNESCO’s statistics were based on out-of-school children aged 6-18 years, the Federal Government only focused on those within the age bracket of 6-11 years, causing the disparity in statistics between the figures presented by UNESCO and the government.
In a country development programme for 2023-2027 as presented by UNICEF and obtained by our correspondent, the UN agency noted that it would develop a sustainable model to tackle the out-of-school children menace.
“10 million children access formal or non-formal education; 4.8 million children access learning materials and 21 states scale up foundational literacy and numeracy; 22 states using integrated data system for sector planning and 12 states with improved adequacy, efficiency and equity in education finance,” the document stated.
Meanwhile, Communications Specialist for UNICEF, Geoffrey Njoku, noted during a media dialogue for journalists that the organisation, over the last five years has supported the enrolment of 1.5 million girls in schools across the country using a new evidence-based approach, while five million children continued to learn during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Njoku further lamented that Nigeria ranks 139 out of 156 countries in the Gender Index Gap, noting that many children in the country were deficient in many areas, requiring all hands to be on deck to resolve.