Reducing number of out-of-school children

With the United Nations Children Fund pegging the school attendance in Nigeria at about 70 per cent, this leaves a whopping 10.5 million children out of educational institutions across all levels. It is a very alarming situation that needs urgent attention but permit me to hone-in on yet another issue that is close to home. For a number of children who are out of school, they can blame the financial situation of the country for their plight. A few can even blame the security challenges that the country is passing through.

There is a third category of children roaming the street though. These children are enrolled in schools; their parents pay their tuition and other fees but they find more pleasure in roaming the streets. They usually will stay in groups and may or may not get into the school premises at all during school hours. This set of unruly school children can be found in primary and secondary schools across the state with only very few exceptions. There is therefore a need to nip this trend in the bud before it gets entirely out of hand. We have had enough of blame sharing and it is getting us nowhere. Getting these children off the streets cannot be done by only the parents or the school authorities it cannot even be achieved solely by the government. There is a need to harmonise and synergise the efforts made towards ensuring that this ugly trend is reversed before it causes total decadence, not only in our educational system but in our society as a whole.

This should serve as a clarion call to parents to monitor the movement of their children and to check up on their academic progress. Teachers and administrators in the schooling system should also ensure that adequate measures are taken to address this issue. The government must equally provide a means of check and balance to ensure the smooth running of operations within schools. With all hands on deck, we can get these children off the streets and into the classrooms.

Babatunde Adeleke, Ibadan

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