NEC sets measures to curb "out of school children"

NEC has set out a way of reducing out of school children in Nigeria
Ernest Sunday

The National Economic Council (NEC) had set out some measures that will help reduce the number of "out of school children" in Nigeria.

The measures which are meant to improve the educational sector in the country was revealed on Thursday, September 16, 2020, during a meeting with the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and the Council in Abuja.

Speaking after the meeting, Kaduna State governor Nasir El-Rufai said that the measure was to make sure that schools are made available for children nationwide.

According to the governor, the move to implement the plan has been supported by the government through financial assistance.

He added that among the support issued by the Federal Government are the release of the Universal Basic Education (UBE) intervention funds to all the states equally, mainstreaming the Almajiri education system as well as popularising open schooling.

"Some of the measures to arrest the potential growth in the number of out of school children, arising from the situation we had before the pandemic and during the pandemic are as follows:

“Disbursement of the Federal Government of Nigeria, UBE intervention funds to states on equality basis to enable them to implement tangible state-based priority projects, including the building of schools or additional classrooms, renovations, rehabilitation, procurement of furniture and equipment etc. with focus on enrolling more pupils or having more flexibility to do shifts.

“The Almajiri Integrated Quranic Teaching School Programmes to mainstream the Almajiri boys into basic education and eradicate the out-of-school children syndrome in northern Nigeria.

Poverty has driven so many children in Nigeria out to the streets. Education should help reduce the number of children in the streets

“Open schooling, which is principally aimed at reducing the number of out-of-school children in the country, amongst others.

“I am very pleased to announce that the Federal Government has put in place some financial incentives to assist the states in implementing the education COVID-19 plan, " Nasir El-Rufai said.

According to Nasir El-Rufai, the states in Nigeria that will be receiving the funds in support for the strategies are the states that are above the nations' average.

“Selected states are to benefit from the COVID-19 GPE global partnership for education funding; those that are above the national average from at least two of three criteria.

“The states that have qualified are Abia, Anambra, Akwa Ibom, Benue, Ebonyi, Jigawa, Kaduna, Katsina, Kebbi, Kano, Nassarawa, Niger, Plateau, Sokoto and Zamfara states. These are the states that made two of the three criteria for GPE funding. This is the grant from the World Bank and other donors.”

The governor said that the federal government has taken action to reduce the learning loss by school children in the COVID-19 period and has enhanced a digital pattern of learning where children can learn online without school resumption.

He also added that the government has made sure that the strategies reached the poor masses with the adoption of learning through radio.

He added that to make it effective the government has devised a plan to carry out a training scheme for school teachers and lecturers as the country is not used to the system of education.

“Finally, accelerating and strengthening the management of an electronic digital identity management system for all Nigerians.

"This will aid easy enrolment, retention and completion of learners at all levels as well as curb and eliminate fraud, forgery and alteration of certificates.”

The National Economic Council (NEC) has pledged to put measures in place to ensure that more children are in school where they are meant to be rather than in the streets.

“Some actions are taken so far to mitigate the learning loss among children by the Fed. Ministry of Education is as follows: 1. Nigeria developed an Education Sector COVID-19 Strategy and National Education Sector COVID-19 Response Plan in collaboration with parastatals, development partners, public health experts, and the Nigerian education group.

"The federal government also constituted a ministerial task force on COVID-19.

“33 out of 36 states and the FCT, including Kaduna; we were the first to roll out e-learning, digital learning platform with a combination of radio and television programme to ensure that our final year students do not lose the entire second and third terms.

“The primary objectives of the COVID-19 education response plan are to ensure that all children continue learning through access to the best remote learning programmes appropriate for each context to meet the needs of each child, including the most vulnerable.

"Some may have access to the internet, but the poorest can get their lessons over the radio; some through television. So, the whole plethora of platforms were made available so that no one is left behind.

“Education system recovers from school closure and implements the same operations.

"We hope that the education systems enhance systemic capacity and preparedness response against the pandemic for children’s safety while being a resilience for future shocks. … by federal and state governments to ensure that we have a safe opening up of our educational system.

“So, what are the expected activities from the federal and state governments? First, we need to build the capacity for master teachers and teachers for ongoing development and deployment of technology teaching.

"This is novel; we are not used to teaching using digital technology. So, we need to do a lot of training. Second, we need to provide technical assistance in the selection and delivery of online digital content and offline learning resources among others”, he said.

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