Notwithstanding that every tier of government is expected to offer compulsory, free Universal Basic Education in primary or junior secondary school, millions of children especially from families with low economic capability either don’t go to school or drop out.
In Zamfara State, government is said to have taken measures to attract kids to school but thousands have never entered a classroom and many dropped out to pursue other survival issues.
Parents have attributed the low enrolment of students/pupils in public secondary and primary schools to high rate of poverty because, though education is free, there are still the costs of books, uniforms and transportation which they still could not afford. Other reasons are the lack of insight on the value of school and education as well as poor infrastructure and accessibility.
A father who identified himself as Ali Sadi said his three children attend public secondary school in Gusau metropolis but that he had to withdraw the female and send her hawking to make ends meet.
“Her mother insisted that she should be withdrawn from school to go and hawk to make some money for the family,” he said.
Another parent, Musa Usman, said rural schools have recorded the lowest attendance rate and that girls are less likely than boys to complete secondary education. He said girls are withdrawn and married-off by their parents due to socio-cultural reasons.
“If you observe very well, especially in Gusau, you will see school age boys trailing bean cake hawkers everywhere looking for who will buy and give out in alms (sadaka). You will see about 30 of them. They are all not enrolled in any school,” he said.
However, a teacher at a private school in Gusau, Malam Rabiu Muhammad Kaura, said some parents didn’t know the importance of education.
“Our orientation on the value of education must change. Many parents would rather finance the wedding of their sons and daughters instead of financing their education,” he added.
Available data at the state Ministry of Education and the State Universal Education Board (SUBEB) revealed that in 2015 the number of students in junior secondary schools across the state was 92,090 (60,471 boys and 31,691 girls). The number of students in senior secondary schools in the state was 68,159 with 18,106 females and 50,053 males.
In 2016, a total of 93,605 students were in junior secondary schools including 61,993 male and 31,622 female students. In the senior secondary schools, there were 75,493 students including 53,162 males and 22, 335 females.
The total number of students in senior secondary schools in 2017 was 69,066 with 47,776 male students and 21,929 female students. As for the junior secondary schools, the total number of students in 2017 was 88,548 with female students recording 31,392 and 57,156 male students.
In the same vein, figures obtained from the board by our correspondent indicated that there is a boost in the enrollment drive at the basic level of education. For instance, the total number of pupils in the state primary schools in 2010 was 255,647 with the number of males standing at 172,262. However, after concerted effort by the government on enrollment campaign, the number rose to 478,385 with male pupils reaching up to 310,148.00 and female pupils’ enrollment totalling 168,237 according to a senior official at the board.
Recently the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said it had identified 240,560 out-of-school children in Bukkuyum, Maradun and Zurmi Local Government Areas.
The Chief of UNICEF in charge of Sokoto Field Office, Mohameden Fall, said the number was derived from the household mapping and listing of out-of-school children conducted in 2016 through the SUBEB in the three LGAs.
“In Bukkuyum, a total of 93,849 out-of-school children were identified with 41,134 males and 52,715 females
“In Maradun 63,943 were identified with 28,963 males and 34,980 females while Zurmi has a total of 82,768 children with 38,286 males and 82,768 females,” he said.
One state official said the figure indicated that unless authorities find a way of addressing the problem, the number of kids out of school would continue to climb at an alarming rate.
The finding also showed that the factors discouraging children from going to school were either unnoticed or unattended to.