The National Association of Seadogs, Pyrates Confraternity, Panama Deck, (Ikeja Chapter), Lagos State, has raised the alarm over the rising number of out -of- school children in Nigeria.
The call by the group is coming on the heels of the International Day of Education which holds today 24th January 2023, with the theme – ‘’Invest in People and Prioritize Education’’.
The United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4 aims to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all by 2030. The group, therefore, maintained that the right to education is enshrined in article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and reminded Government that the declaration calls for free and compulsory elementary education.
In addition, the group added that the Convention on the Rights of the Child, adopted in 1989, goes further to stipulate that member countries should make higher education accessible to all.
According to the United Nations Education Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), as of October 2022, about 20 million children were out of school in Nigeria.
This figure, the global education body said, is a far-reaching increase from the 10.5 million recorded by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in 2020 and means an additional 9.5 million out of school children in just 2 years, noting that this is a crisis situation.
According to UNICEF, about 18.5 million Nigerian children aged 5 to 14 years are out of school, even when primary education is compulsory and free in the country.
UNICEF records further shows that as of December 2022, no fewer than 1,436 school children in Nigeria had been abducted, while 16 lost their lives. Teachers are not spared, as 17 school teachers were kidnapped during the period.
Worse still, UNICEF further pointed out that over 11,000 schools in Nigeria were shut, to prevent students from being kidnapped, thereby disrupting academic activities of over 1.3 million pupils in the North West, North East and North Central geopolitical zones in Nigeria.
The Pyrates Confraternity expressed concern that the inability of the Federal Government to meet the minimum benchmark of 15 to 20 per cent of annual budget for Education, as recommended by the Global Education Agency, the United Nations Education Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), was a major setback to the attainment of SDG 4 in Nigeria.
The group, however, noted some recent positives, even as education has just been allocated the second largest budget and an improved per cent allocation of N1.79 trillion and 8.2 per cent of the 2023 budget.
Until the latest budget, the highest percentage for education under the present administration was 7.9 per cent in 2016, suggesting a marginal improvement, as the percent allocation is still less than half of the 15 – 20 per cent recommended by the UNESCO, for expenditure on the education sector.
To improve Nigeria’s chances of attaining SDG 4 in the coming years, the Pyrates Confraternity urges Government to address identified key constraints such as insecurity, unemployment and poverty, among others.
The group also challenged the government to increase and diversify learning opportunities, using a wide range of education and training modalities, to empower youths and young adults, especially girls and women, to acquire relevant knowledge, skills and competencies for decent work and life.