BusinessDay

HDI proffers solution to Nigeria’s out-of-school challenges, calls for year round enrollment policy

Human Development Initiative (HDI), a non-governmental organisation, has urged the governments to consider a national policy framework that would accommodate all year round enrollment into primary schools in the country.

This, according to them, should be followed up with punitive measures that reprimand offenders that would allow the nation to achieve the Universal Basic Education (UBE) Act 2004 and reduce the number of out-of-school children.

The sensitisation programme was organised for stakeholders from Ajeromi-Ifelodun Local Government Area, which includes community leaders, artisans, parents’ forum and traditions rulers.

Olufunso Owasanoye, executive director, HDI, while speaking at the sensitisation programme on the 2019 Lagos State UBE action plan, harped on the need for strict enforcement of the 2004 UBE Act.

She maintained that there should be more sensitisation, education on the advantages of achieving zero out-of-school children in the society. “But we need to do more in the area of sanctioning those parents or guidance that are denying children education which is their right,” said Owasanoye.

Owasanoye posits that there is a need to mitigate it through regular advocacy and sensitization to enable more parents and guardians to understand the danger of not sending their children or ward to school. “So, I think that the law now has to be implemented because it was not as much implemented in the years back that we did not have a lot of out-school-children,” she stated.

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Johnson Ibidapo, the programme officer, HDI, stressed that the challenge of out-of-school children was one that has been with us for a long time now.

However, he states that implementing what the laws says in the UBE Act 2004 remains the way out in order to address the issue of out-of-school children in Nigeria.

“So the first thing we can do is start by implementing the law or by constituting a special committee that will be particularly for out-of-school children. Their job will be to move during school hours from place to place to areas that are noted to be places where children are seen out-of-school hawking, wandering, littering all over the place,” said Ibidapo.

However, he stressed that a state like Lagos must vary its policy approach to allow enrollment all year round, “For Lagos state people keep coming into the state; as you are enrolling two out-of-school children three are coming back into the state.

According to him, Lagos can adopt the strategies of some countries where enrollment is open all year round. He posits that that in itself has its own challenges; however, the government can look at the loopholes and see the possibility of adopting this style.

“One of the biggest challenges they have is not that they do not want to be enrolled but the policy says you must enroll between August and September. So, if I come into Lagos in October it means that a child cannot come into school; if I come in January I have to wait till August,” Ibidapo said.

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