By Felix Khanoba
The United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) has called on states that have benefitted from its school cash transfer programme to sustain the scheme in order to give a massive boost to school enrolment.
The UNICEF’s cash transfer programme which was first initiated in 2014 in Niger and Sokoto states and later extended to schools in Zamfara and Kebbi states, has not only increased girls enrolment but also contributed in the retention of pupils.
Speaking during a media dialogue on the scheme in Sokoto, UNICEF Education Specialist, Azuka Menkiti, said the programme which ensures cash are paid to parents for bringing their children to school has been a major success in reducing the number of out-of-school children in the most affected states.
“The UNICEF cash transfer programme has been successful because it was targeted at addressing the economic barrier in education and we recently conducted assessment which has shown improvement in enrolment of girls children.
“For us in making education accessible to everyone, we need to start empowering every family because poverty has become key problem hindering children from attending schools,” she said.
Azuka commended Sokoto and Niger state governments for their efforts to sustain the scheme even as she called on others to ensure the continuity of the scheme even after the conclusion of UNICEF intervention.
Also speaking, Sokoto State Commissioner for Higher Education, Muhammad Kilgori, expressed the commitment of the state government to sustain the scheme, saying it expended N500 million in 2017 to improve girls enrolment through the cash transfer programme.
On his part, the Niger State cash transfer programme Coordinator, Idris Azika, said the state has concluded arrangement to expend N193 million in the next three years on the scheme.