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Senate President Lawan laments plight of out-of-school children – but he falls 3m short

the plight of Nigeria's out of school children

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Senate President Lawan laments plight of out-of-school children – but he falls 3m short

Senate President Ahmad Lawan on Tuesday decried the growing population of children who are currently out of school in Nigeria. While reading his welcome address at the plenary of the Nigerian Senate, he said the number of children out of school stands at 10 million.

Background: This statement came on the heels of former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s claim last week, while meeting with delegates of the National Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN), where he mentioned that the number of out of school children is currently 13 million. He was quoted to have said:

  • “Whatever I have done, I did it because I am educated and for the love I have for Nigeria. If I didn’t have education, I would not have been able to do what I have done and today, it pains me that more than 13 million of Nigerian children who should be in school are out of school.”

However, in a reaction to the statement of the Owu General, the Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT) corroborated Obasanjo’s sentiment on one hand while on another hand questioned his sincerity since he ruled the country for 8 years but did not fix it.

  • “If the past President was in power for eight years, one will begin to wonder how much of value and what welfare they gave to teachers? If you study the education policies of countries such as Malaysia, Singapore, Finland, Canada and others, you will discover that teachers are better taken care of. They place a lot of premium on education.”

Why it matters: According to a statement credited to the Executive Secretary of Universal Basic Education (UBEC), Hammid Bobboyi, the number of out of school children has risen from the oft-quoted 10 million in 2015 to 13.2 million as at October 2018. This is more in line with the Obasanjo 13 million figure, with Senate President’s Lawan 10 million figure a long way off.

Bottomline: The Muhammadu Buhari administration has to do better in this second term. At the inauguration of the National Economic Council (NEC) on June 20th, the president committed to “free and compulsory education as a long term objective of bringing an end to the phenomenon of out-of-school children.”

  • Buhari also said at that event that it is “a crime for any parent to keep his child out of school… In my view, when a government fails to provide the schools, teachers and teaching materials necessary for basic education, it is actually aiding and abetting that crime.”
  • Important: Buhari made similar assurances before and after the 2015 polls, but there is a general view that were not many gains in education in the last four years.”

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