Worried by the spiking rate of out-of-school children of school age, especially girls, in Nigeria, the Civil Society Action Coalition on Education for All (CSACEFA) has announced the commencement of a project designed to increase access to quality education for the girl child in Nigeria.
The project, the coalition said, is aimed at reducing the prevalence of out-of-school children and increasing the rate of enrollment of girls in schools not just in the project’s six focal states of Oyo, Ebonyi, Benue, Cross River, Katsina and Nasarawa, but across the country.
To get these goals achieved, the national headquarters has held a two-day conference where its state coordinators from Oyo, Cross River and Ebonyi States were trained and equipped with the requisite knowledge to help carry on the project and actualise the set goals.
The training which took place in Ibadan, Oyo State capital, exposed the trainees to the nitty-gritty of advocacy, engagement with formal and informal stakeholders, policy formulation process and the key roles civil society organisations could play as well as the need for appropriate media engagement.
Speaking to Tribune Online after the training, the coalition’s Programmes Officer, Mr Adeleke Demian-Mary said the project became necessary due to the growing number of out-of-school girls. The number, he said, had spiked in recent years and the COVID-19 pandemic has worsened the already deplorable and appalling situation.
“The aim of the programme is to improve the education of the girl child and create room for advocacy and social accountability at the national and the state levels for states to be able to start developing their education sector plan that would accommodate, to a very large extent, the girl child education.
“If you look at the statistics of Nigeria, we have 13.2 million out-of-school children (more than 60 per cent are girls of school-age). With the COVID-19 situation, we are projecting about 23 million children,” Adeleke said.
The project which is named Education Out Loud (EOL), Adeleke said, takes a critical look at “how we can increase enrollment; how we can bring out children who are on the streets, who are not learning, who are not in the class, who must have been affected by cultural practices, economic inequality, and other factors which have forced them out of school. So, we are looking at how we can bring them back to school.”
Alluding to teenage pregnancy as one of the factors that force girls out of school, he said the project seeks to ensure that government at all levels take into account the plight of the girl child who got pregnant for no fault of hers, and sees to it that she gets the opportunity to go back to school to get a safe future for herself and the society.
The Oyo State Coordinator of the coalition and Programme Director of Educare Trust, Mr Moshood Folorunsho, expressed optimism that the project would meet the set goals.
Although it may not be a smooth ride, he admitted, the members are poised to “put in our very best to ensure the girl child gets better access to quality education”, Mr Folorunsho assured.
At Oyo state level, he said, the state ministry of education is being engaged with and plans are already underway to ensure the project and other projects of the coalition are implemented successfully.