From Jonas Ike, Abuja.
Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development Dame Mrs Pauline Tallen on Friday said that Nigeria has the highest number of out of school children among all countries of the world.
The Minister spoke at a press conference in Abuja where she decried the increasing number of out of school children in Nigeria noting that education is a major ingredient for self actualization and attainment of the potential of any child.
She lamented that 60 percent of children of school age are out of school as contained in a report by the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) 2 of 2016 and 2017 conducted by the National Bureau of Statistics in collaboration with UNICEF.
The Minister prticularly noted that the North-East and North-West geo-political zones are the worst hit regions adding that the Federal Government has a responsibility to provide access to education to citizens at all levels.
She noted and pointed out that all children deserve quality education irrespective of gender and added that the girl child is a vulnerable member of the society who in most cases faces discriminatory practices.
She said that a combination of these negative practices, values customs and attitudes most often deny her the opportunity of good education and as a result, he aspirations and dreams are smothered.
The former deputy governor of Plateau State noted that achieving the Universal Basic Education for all cannot be a reality where the girl child that forms part of the larger sub-group cannot access basic education.
While calling for the effective implementation of the Child Rights Act in all 36 states of the federation while harping on the need to ensure the closure of gender gaps at each level of the educational sector.
The Minister also deplored the worrisome practice where parents oftentimes withdraw the girl child from school for early marriage due to economic or other reasons.
She however said that the Ministry of Women Affairs is partnering with its education counterpart to improve on national advocacy campaign on girl child education.
The erstwhile envoy also cited the provisions of sect 15 of the Child Right Act 2003 which states that every child has right to free, compulsory Universal Basic Education and it shall be the duty of Government of Nigeria to provide such education to butress her position.