• Tuesday, June 18, 2024
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Kanuri, Fulani top list of out-of-school children in Nigeria — UNICEF

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The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has identified Kanuri, Fulani, and Hausa ethnicities as the worst hit in the number of out-of-school children last year in Africa’s most populous nation.

According to the UN agency’s report, the North West has a total of 8,044,800 out-of-school children, the North East has 5,064,400 and the North Central has 2,115,800. The South West has 1,146,900, while the South-South has 431,300 and the South East has 240,200 out-of-school children.

Looking at how the various ethnic groups in Nigeria are affected by the rising number of out-of-school children, a UNICEF report shows that the Hausa ethnic group with a population of about 69.2 million has 8,110,400 out–of–school children, which accounts for 11.72 per cent.

The Fulani ethnic group with 25 million people has 3,305,500 out-of-school children which is about 13.2 percent, while the Kanuri ethnic group of about four million people has 982,200 out-of-school children accounting for 24.6 percent.

Also, the Yoruba ethnic group with a population of about 50 million has    855,700, which is 1.7 per cent, while the Igbo ethnic group with about 30 million people has 796,600, about 2.7 per cent out-of-school children.

Other ethnic groups like the Tiv with a population of about 5 million, have 215,900 out-of-school children, accounting for 4.3 per cent, while Ijaw ethnic group has 132,200 of about 0.9 per cent out-of-school children out of  14 million people.

Ibibio has 120,000 out-of-school children out of about 4.5 million people which is 2.67 percent, and Edo with a population of about 5 million people has  99,200 out-of-school children, which is 2.0 percent.

Meanwhile, Tushar Rane, the chief of field office at UNICEF recently expressed his worries over the soaring number of out-of-school children in the nation which at 18.3 million is the highest globally.

Rane made this known during a two-day regional stakeholders engagement meeting on the out-of-school children and the retention, transition, and completion models in Bauchi, Gombe, and Adamawa States held at Emerald Hotel Hall, Gombe.

The UNICEF representative in Nigeria lamented that the country has the largest number of out-of-school children globally, with only 63 per cent of primary school children regularly attending school.

“An astounding 10.2 million primary school-age children and an additional 8.1 million at the junior secondary level are out of school in the country,” UNICEF stated.

Besides, Rane lamented the rate of out-of-school children, and low learning achievement in the country, especially in the North-East and North-West sub-regions.

Citing Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey 2021, Rane said only 84 per cent of children effectively transition to junior secondary education after primary school completion.

He added that “less than 50 percent – about 2.4 million – of the 5.9 million children who commence Primary Grade 1 annually in Nigeria persist to the conclusion of Junior Secondary Grade 3.”

The UN agency’s boss explained that an analysis of the MICS reports between 2011 and 2021 indicates an increase in dropout rates across all genders at the primary level especially in the northern part of the country. Specifically, the primary-level dropout rate rose from one per cent in 2011 to five per cent in 2021.

“A similar upward trend is noticeable when considering wealth quintiles. For students belonging to the poorest wealth quintile, the primary-level dropout rate increased from two percent in 2011 to six percent in 2021. Among students in the richest wealth quintile, the dropout rate also showed an increase, rising from 1% in 2011 to 4% in 2021,” he said.

This ugly development he reiterated pattern suggests that, compared to a decade ago, the education system in Nigeria faces challenges in retaining students and ensuring their continued education across all the regions and the problem persists in the North-East and North-West.

“Numerous obstacles prevent consistent school attendance, timely enrolment, and completion of education for all Nigerian children. Some of these obstacles include inadequate evidence-based policy and planning, limited budget allocation, significant shortages of qualified teachers and classrooms, poor infrastructure, cultural norms, health and safety worries, and dependence on children for income and household tasks,” Rane noted.