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Out-of-school children: FG tasks traditional, religious leaders on reduction

Godfrey AKON

The Federal Government has tasked traditional and religious leaders in Nigeria on the need to join forces with government to reduce the high number of out-of-school children estimated at 10.2 million.

Executive Secretary of Universal Basic Education Commission, UBEC, Dr Hamid Bobboyi, gave the charge in Abuja at a one-day consultative meeting of the National Planning Committee on the 2022 National Personnel Audit, NPA, with religious leaders on the modalities for the conduct of NPA in all basic education institutions in Nigeria.

The first phase of the school census exercise would commence on Monday, 6th June, 2022 in the southern part of the country.

Bobboyi, who was represented by the Deputy Executive Secretary, Services, Dr Isiaka Kolawole, acknowledged the key role being played by traditional rulers and religious leaders in the implementation of Universal Basic Education, UBE, in the country, urging them to continue to collaborate with the government in addressing the challenge out-of-school children while ensuring quality basic education is delivered to the citizenry.

He also appealed to the religious leaders whom he noted have many schools across the country to support the NPA exercise, saying dearth of data on basic education has remained a major challenge to its implementation in Nigeria as education planners and decision-makers had to make do with data that is not up-to-date or outrightly falsified.

He said it was against this backdrop that the commission with the state and Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Universal Basic Education Boards conducted national personal audits in 2006, 2010 and 2018, explaining that the 2018 exercise was more comprehensive as it covered all categories of public and private education institutions unlike the previous exercises that were limited to public schools only.

“We are in the process of conducting another personnel audit of all educational institutions in the country offering full or elements of basic education. This is for the purpose of collecting school data on enrolment, personnel, and facilities, among others.

“The importance of up-to-date, accurate and reliable data in the planning and implementation of educational programmes cannot be over-emphasised.

“Data enables us to plan effectively towards systematic achievement of the educational objectives, track progress made, identify the strengths and

weaknesses of implementation strategies, and form the basis for making informed decisions,” he said.

Deputy Executive Secretary, Technical, UBEC, and chairman of 2022 NPA National Planning Committee, Professor Bala Zakari, solicited for the cooperation of religious leaders, especially in the area of mass mobilization and sensitisation of the heads of their various schools nationwide in readiness for the exercise.

Speaking at the consultative meeting, the Secretary-General of CAN, Joseph Daramola, decried that gradual erosion of the nation’s cherished values and morals in schools with examination malpractice becoming a norm in many schools across the country.

Daramola said it was unfortunate that it is no longer only students that are involved in examination malpractice but parents and teachers are also culprits in this, urging government and regulatory authorities to be firm on issues of discipline.

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