By Laleye Dipo
The federal government has released about N1.9 billion to the Niger State Government to boost the standard of education and literacy in the state.
The Minister of State for Education Mr. Chukwuemeka Nwajuiba, who disclosed this in Minna on Tuesday at the flag-off of the “Better Education Service Delivery For All” programme, said the state government will account for the money before it can access future grants.
He said the state was selected to benefit from the grant because of “the number of out-of-school children in the state”.
Stressing that the programme is a bold step the government has taken to reduce the number of out-of-school children in the country, Nwajuiba said: “Every local government in the state needs to be aware that the programme is on and every child should be in school.”
The programme, the minister said, is aimed at strengthening Universal Basic Education, which was conceived in 2016, but its real implementation commenced in 2018.
Nwajuiba said the federal government introduced the policy because education is at the heart of development and it is the most priority of the present administration.
The minister said poor funding and lack of enough qualified teaching staff are some of the challenges facing the education sector, adding that government is making strenuous efforts to surmount the problems.
The Niger State Governor, Alhaji Abubakar Sani Bello, in an address, decried the high number of children that are out of school in the state, blaming the situation on parents who refuse to enrol their wards in schools.
Bello said it is a customary thing to see many of the children roaming the streets when they are in school, urging all stakeholders to join hands with government to address the trend.
The governor promised that his administration will continue to give priority to education especially in the areas of provision of infrastructure and recruitment of qualified teaching and non teaching staff.
The Chairman of the state Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB), Dr Isah Adamu, in an address, confirmed that the state government received the N1.9 billion in two tranches in May and August 2019.
Adamu disclosed that the programme has been able to identify 206,093 out-of-school children in the state, with 132,086 being male and 74,007 female, pointing out that 1,599 Almajiri centres were identified in 517 communities in the state.
He disclosed that so far, the Board under the programme has enrolled 72,553 out-of-school children in 367 selected non formal education centres, a development he described as far above the expected target of 47,934 out-of-school children in the state.
Adamu also revealed that 1,596 facilitators with requisite qualification were employed and trained to teach basic literacy programme in Reading and Numeracy Activities in non formal education centres, even as the Board provided the Almajiris and girl child in the non formal centres with school uniforms, school bags, detergents, bathing soaps, sanitary pads, teaching and learning materials.