Nigeria and indeed the rest of world would need 9.3 million new pre-primary teachers to meet the universal target for pre-primary education by 2030.A report by the United Nations children education fund (UNICEF) has revealed.
As of today, only 422,000 pre-primary teachers currently teach in low income countries while in West and Central Africa, 2.5 per cent is allocated to pre-primary education, with 70 per cent of children missing out on early education in the region.
Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy currently has over 13 million out-of-school children record which is the highest in the world.
According to the UNICEF report titled a World Ready to Learn: Prioritising quality early childhood education, “Children enrolled in at least one year of pre-primary education are more likely to develop the critical skills they need to succeed in school, less likely to repeat grades or drop out of school, and therefore more able to contribute to peaceful and prosperous societies and economies when they reach adulthood”.
Meanwhile the United Nations children education fund (UNICEF) said it targets to ensure return of about 501,749 out-of-school children to school by 2020 in Kastina, Kebbi, Sokoto, and Zamfara states.
Isah Usman, Kebbi state project coordinator EAC/UNICEF said the cash transfer programme under the “Educate a child” project (EAC) aims at expanding access to quality basic education as well as ensuring improved quality of teaching and learning environment in target states.
“The Cash transfer intervention under the EAC aims to reach 41,391 child beneficiaries and their female caregivers in four years: 31,044 in Kebbi State and 10,347 in Zamfara State. In Kebbi State, in the first year the program runs in the local government areas (LGAs) of Danko-Wasagu, Suru and Maiyama and will be expanded to Argungu, Bagudo, Dandi, Gwandu, Koko-Besse and Shanga LGAs in the following years”, he said.
Usman presenting the overview of the cash transfer programme in Kebbi, revealed that Kebbi and Zamfara States have higher number of out of school children, of which majority are girls, despite the fact that primary Education is officially free and compulsory and these States are guided by this policy and the UBE Act (2004).
According to him, “Poor education indicators in the States are partly driven by social attitudes towards ‘western’ education, and poverty of parents, especially in rural communities.
“The poverty level of rural community members largely restricts their level of participation in the education of their children. Majority of them cannot afford purchases of basic learning materials, not to even support school infrastructural development”.
He said “the Cash Transfer Programme addresses some of the underlying causes of inequalities in education outcomes, such as poverty, social exclusion and malnutrition as it promotes regular source of income, allows extremely poor households to eat better food more regularly, leading to improved nutritional status essential for children’s cognitive development and ability to benefit meaningfully from school”.
“Education in turn, will lead to healthier children and these benefits will be passed on to the next generation. “Evidence shows that in Africa, children of mothers who received five years of primary Education are 40% more likely to live beyond the age of five.
Speaking further, Usman explained that seven strategic interventions has been selected for the partnership with EAC which will enable UNICEF and its partners to reach more out-of-school children in Kebbi and Zamfara States adding that the interventions are form of social protection aimed at reducing the financial burden on families to enroll and keep these children in school.
“The proposed interventions under the partnership with EAC are in line with UNICEF’s vision and mission of the realization of children’s rights including their right to education and with EAC’s mission, vision and goals, focusing on out-of-school children and quality education for them”. “The major priorities for the project include Massive awareness, Poverty Mitigation, Women self-decorum, Income generation options, increased in Enrolment, improved Learning performance(s) “, he added.
Kelechi Ewuzie and Cynthia Egboboh