The annual statistical analysis shows the scary growth in the number of out-of-school children across Nigeria. This has been a nightmare to our educational and economic development.
The numbers are mostly high in the local areas where there is low access to modern amenities and a proper system of education. The people end up sending their children to hawk in the streets, marrying (the girl-child) early.
Unfortunately, government at all levels have abandoned the building of new schools and rehabilitation of old ones in the rural areas.
It is said that the number has reached between 11 and 12 million children on our streets not attending any school. These children do not go to school because of the condition they found themselves. Some have lost their parents while, some are from poor families that cannot afford school fees. Sadly, the number increases daily due to the failure of governments to give education sector the attention it deserves.
It is pertinent to state that action must be taken to drastically reduce the number of out-of-school children in the country because, in the nearest future, Nigeria may not be able to control the situation. Having a large population of our young ones with no education or guidance can only result into increase in criminal activities. They will be ready tool to cause mayhem in society.
Thus it is extremely dangerous to neglect the situation having seen how many of our young ones have now turned into bandits, kidnappers and terrorists.
To address the problem of out-of-school children, all of us have a duty to look around us and see how we can assist individually and as a community.
The government should create a programme with immediate effect to enroll the millions of children to access free education. It should embark on massive building and rehabilitation of schools especially in the rural areas. Where government is forced to charge fees it should ensure that the minimum is paid to encourage parents to enroll their children.
There should also be massive enlightenment of the parents on the importance of enrolling their children in school. Emphasis should be laid on the education of the girl-child.
Indeed, the future economic and social development of Nigeria depends on how we come together to address this issue. We cannot afford to miss on this.
Esther Isiyaku, Department of Mass Communication, University of Maiduguri