UNICEF to work with Bayelsa Govt to reduce Out-Of-School Children

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The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) in collaboration with the Bayelsa State government on Monday commenced a school enrollment campaign in Yenagoa aimed at reducing the increasing rate of out-of-school children in the state, which is put at 265,000.

A 15-member Enrollment Drive Committee headed by Walton Liverpool, the Executive Secretary, State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB), was inaugurated by the state Commissioner for Education, Jonathan Obuebite, before the campaign event kicked-off.

Obuebite said the state government had invested over N70 billion in the education sector in the past seven years in addition to running a free primary and secondary education policy to encourage school enrollment, especially the girl-child.

He urged the committee to drive the policy of increasing school enrollment across the state.

In his remarks, Liverpool assured the UNICEF and the Bayelsa State government that the campaign would be taken to the eight local government areas of the state with the support of other stakeholders.

He said that out of the 12.3 million out-of-school children in Nigeria, Bayelsa accounted for 265,000 of them, 60 per cent of who are girls.

Liverpool noted that teenage pregnancy had forced the girl-child to dropout of school, a development that compelled UNICEF and the state government to place much emphasis on the girl-child in the campaign.

Speaking at the event attended by students, pupils from select schools, faith-based groups, women and traditional leaders, Azuka Menkiti, representative of the UNICEF, stated that the UN agency was supporting the drive to reduce out-of-school rate in 15 states, including Bayelsa.

She said that UNICEF intervenes in education in three thematic areas of access, quality and governance through capacity building and funding support to benefiting states.

Menkiti advised the girls to resist the pressure to indulge in sexual activities which leads to unwanted teenage pregnancy that aborts education of the girl-child.

She said, “As a mother, I will tell you as I also tell my daughters that all the things men tell you at this your age is all lies. There is time for everything, and this is the right time for you to remain in school and complete your education.

“I urge all of us to encourage our girls to remain in school and complete their primary and secondary education as well as tertiary education because their future life is guaranteed by a good education.

“To parents, the best investment for our children remains a good education, and we want to work with Bayelsa Government to change the narrative that teenage pregnancy is the obstacle to education of girls in Bayelsa.”

Culled from Independent Nigeria

Image Credit: ENDS

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