Bauchi, UNICEF Begins Counting of Out-of-School Children

By Nurat Uthman

The Bauchi State government in collaboration with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) have commenced mapping of out-of-school children to ascertain the actual number of children that are not attending school as the State reportedly has about 1.2 million children who are not in school.

According to a statement by the Officer in Charge of UNICEF Bauchi Field Office, Adams Clement, the mapping would enable the state “to know the actual number of children that are out of school, for effective planning. The mapping is a comprehensive household survey for out-of-school children towards actualising the state’s strategic plans to reduce the number and rate of out-of-school children.”

Speaking with Vanguard in Bauchi on Friday, UNICEF Education Officer, Bauchi field office, Raphael Adedipe said UNICEF has trained 325 enumerators and 40 supervisors, spread across all the 20 local government areas of the state.

He said: “The main objective of conducting the enumeration is to identify the actual number of school-age children who are not attending school. This will help us to understand the reasons why they are not in school so that we can come up with strategies to get them back to school.

“For some time, there has been massive campaign to return out-of-school children back to classrooms through the efforts of UNICEF-backed SBMC programme and the State government’s school enrolment drive championed by the education committee set up by the Bauchi state government.”

He noted that although that the various enrolment campaigns might have yielded some results but UNICEF and the state government want to find out the extent of the success of the enrolment campaign and how it can be improved to maximize the gains achieved so far.

On her part, a SUBEB officer and UNICEF focal person, Halima Umar said that the State wants to find out if it really has the highest number of out-of-school children in the country.

“There’s been reports that Bauchi has the highest number of out-of-school children in the country, which we don’t really agree with. So we want to find out whether that report is valid or not. This is how we can know the actual number of those that are not in school,” she said.

The Governor, Bala Mohammed, in September, had inaugurated an education committee headed by the Emir of Bauchi, Adamu Rilwanu, to champion the enrolment of kids, which has helped to return over 18,000 back to classrooms.

On a visit to Bambiyo community in Giade Local Council, parents were cooperating with the enumerators for mapping for mapping of their children.

One of the enumerators, Aisha Abubakar told Vanguard that the major reason parents gave not allowing their children to attend school was economic hardship.

“I have been going from door to door, meeting parents for information,” she said. “They have been cooperating and they are willing to enrol their kids in school. However, some of them are saying that economic hardship is the reason why their kids are not in school.”

One of the parents, Adamu Abdullahi who said he has 10 children who are of school age, stated that not all his children attend school at the same time, saying that he alternates them between school and farm to make ends meet.

“The hardship in the land is too much. I don’t allow all my children to attend school at once, what I do is that I alternate them. While five are in school, the other 5 are on the farm with me, so that everybody gets to benefit from education and help me take care of the family,” he said.

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