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Intn’l Day of Education: Nigeria battles high number of out-of-school children

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NIGERIA is faced with a challenge of high number of out-of-school children as the world marks the International Day of Education on Tuesday, January 24.

The United Nations General Assembly proclaimed January 24 as International Day of Education in celebration of the role of education for peace and development.

With the theme ‘To invest in people, prioritize education’, this year’s event is dedicated to Afghan women and girls who have been denied the opportunity to receive formal education.

Status quo: Out-of-school children

Unfortunately, this is also the situation in Nigeria as 60 per cent of over 10 million out-of-school children are girls. Globally, there are 118.5 million girls out of school.

With the current global recession and widening inequality, stakeholders have urged the Nigerian government to give priority to education in order to get towards all of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) more quickly as there hasn’t been much of a change in Nigeria’s out-of-school rates among adolescents and young people in secondary school whose out-of-school population has grown by 61 per cent, from 6.3 million to 10 million. Also, the number of primary school-aged children who are not in school also increased by 50 per cent, from 6.4 million to 9.7 million.

Nigeria has a total of 19.7 million out-of-school children – the country with the third highest number of children deprived of education according to the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) 2020 Model Estimates.

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Call to action: Improvement in levels of literacy/digital literacy

In order to reverse the trend and spur accelerated development, the UN urges governments, the global community, and important stakeholders to stick to their pledges to prioritize investment in education and educational transformation.

Governments have been advised to ensure adequate funding and implementation of policies towards tailoring learning to students’ unique abilities and needs at all levels.

Stakeholders have also urged the Federal Government to make literacy (ability to read and write) and digital literacy the hallmark of the country’s educational system. Nigeria’s literacy rate stands at 62 per cent, far below many other African countries.

In South Asia, there are more issues with digital literacy, whereas in some African nations, there are more issues with affordability. However, these various restrictions are not mutually exclusive. A survey carried out in the World Development Report 2021 shows that about 60 per cent of Nigerians who participated in that survey do not know what the internet is and do not know how to use the Internet. About 25 per cent do not have access to digital devices as they could not afford to purchase them while others considered the use of digital devices or gaining digital knowledge irrelevant.

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Relevant stakeholders, including the government, have been urged to make efforts to not only equip Nigerian citizens with digital knowledge but also to make digital devices affordable.

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