Group calls for synergy in tackling Out-of-School crisis

Out-of-School Children engaging in street hawking
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By Sarafina Christopher and Esther Mamudu

Olean Care Aid Foundation (OCAF), a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), has called on stakeholders in the education sector and the Federal Government to partner in tackling the Out-of-School Children crisis in the country.

Mrs Oge Ezenyimulu-Nwagu, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, OCAF, made the call on Thursday in Abuja at an event organised to commemorate the 2024 International Day of Education.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the 2024 commemoration has the theme “What does education mean to you?”

NAN also reports that the event was organised in collaboration with the Assured Charity Organisation and Isioma Akamagwuuna Foundation.

Ezeyinmulu-Nwagu, while speaking on the importance of education, said that every child deserved to be educated as children were the country’s future hope.

“We are here today to commemorate the International Day of Education which is celebrated worldwide.

“We chose this particular day because it is part of our mission in our foundation to get children to have a discourse, to understand what education truly is to them.

“That is why we have education stakeholders with us because we need them to address what education means to them.”

According to her, education is life, fun, exposure, imparting knowledge to others, wisdom and understanding how human beings interact with one another.

“Presently, the Out-of-School Children figure has been disturbing; I want to use this opportunity to let the Federal Government and education stakeholders know that Nigeria cannot stop pushing for a reduction in the figures.

“We have to keep pushing until we achieve education for all,” she said.

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Similarly, Ms Chinelo Iwenufo, a representative of the Founder, Assured Charity Organisation, another NGO, stressed the need for government to make education accessible by ensuring that it was free at the primary level.

“We have a problem in Nigeria with education as we have acknowledged, so I really want to point out that the government should make education one of their top priorities.

“And the fact that we have severe poverty in Nigeria; lot of people cannot afford education; these children here are the lucky ones.

“Lot of children do not even have the chance to be educated; you see them in the street begging, young girls doing all sort of things they are not supposed to be doing and boys engaging in criminal activities”, she said.

She noted that the rise in crime and terrorism was as a result of children not being in school.

Iwenufo said that there was the need for the government to intervene by ensuring that any child of school age was in school.

She said that it could be achieved by making basic education from primary school to secondary or maybe till the child is about 16 years free, as the case of most western countries.

“After that, the child is free to go on his own and continue to A-level stage or high school stage and university,” she said.

Also speaking, Fatima Gambo-Babba, Director, Co-curricular, FCT-Secondary Education Board, highlighted the board’s achievements so far in the education sector in the FCT.

She said that the board placed premium on education in the FCT; hence presently, it was grooming no fewer than 80,000 students throughout the Federal Capital Territory.

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“We have no other business than educating the child of the FCT and anybody that shows interest in education, we will give him the maximum support and cooperation,” she said.

Miss Favour Ugwuezi, a student /participant expressed her appreciation to the team for celebrating the day with the students.

“Today, I have learnt that education is broad; it is formal and informal; I have learnt that I can become anything I want to be if I put my heart and the necessary hard work into it.

“I hope that one day, I can also contribute to making education available to other children just as I am privileged to have my education going,” she said.

The International Day of education is a day declared and dedicated by UNESCO to celebrate the essential role education and teachers play in bringing global peace and sustainable development. (NAN)(www.nannews.com.ng)

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Edited by Deborah Coker and Chijioke Okoronkwo

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