By Felix Khanoba
No fewer than 584,570 children of school age are currently out of school in Sokoto and Zamfara states, North-West Nigeria.
This was made known during the flag-off of Better Education Service Delivery For All (BESDA) programme in the two states by the Minister of State for Education, Hon Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba.
The BESDA programme aimed to shore up schools’ enrolment by targeting children who are on the streets instead of classrooms.
A statement made available to newsmen by the Director of Press, Federal Ministry of Education, Ben Bem Goong, said the minister while speaking at Sokoto’s event described the 436,570 out-of-school in the state as alarming.
“I am worried that this commentary is coming out of Sokoto State,” he said.
Nwajiuba, however, noted that it was gratifying to note that Sokoto State has successfully enrolled 75,000.children in schools out of the 436,570 in the build up to the launch of BESDA, noting that it is evident that the state is taking the challenge seriously.
The minister argued that while efforts are being made to reduce the number of out of school children to a tolerable limit, more and more children are joining the queue, maintaining that until these efforts outweigh the birth rates, government efforts will continue to be neutralized.
The minister of state for education, who also launched the BEDSA programme in Gusau, Zamfara State, said the 148,000 children that are currently out of school in the state will be attracted back to school through the initiative.
He lauded the achievements of the Zamfara State Government especially in the area of Basic and Secondary Education, which have manifested in the current position of Zamfara State in the National Common Entrance Examination ratings from the last to 14 position.
The minister expressed hope that Zamfara will soon take advantage of its competitive edge over other states if the BESDA programme is implemented faithfully, having already enrolled 19,000 children, adding that the scheme has already enrolled over one million children in states where it has so far been launched.
In a separate remarks during the launch of the programme in their respective states, Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State and Governor Bello Matawalle of Zamfara state, commended the Federal Government for its massive support for the basic education sector and assured of the readiness to effectively tackle the problem of out-of-school children.