Pupils of Apata Ogbooro Primary School

UNICEF says Nigeria now has highest out-of-school children in the world

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has voiced alarm over the escalating number of out-of-school children in Nigeria, which now stands at 18.3 million.

This staggering figure positions Nigeria as the country with the highest number of out-of-school children globally.

Dr. Tushar Rane, Chief of Bauchi Field Office, revealed this information during a two-day Regional Stakeholders Engagement Meeting held in Gombe.

Dr. Rane expressed deep concern over Nigeria’s status, adding that there is an urgent need to address the challenge of out-of-school children in the country.

“Unfortunately, this positions Nigeria with the challenge of having the largest number of out-of-school children globally,” stated Dr. Rane.

The decline in school attendance rates is also troubling, with only 63% of primary school-age children regularly attending school.

Dr. Rane emphasized the importance of addressing this issue and increasing the transition rate of children from primary to junior secondary education.

Various factors contribute to the high number of out-of-school children, including inadequate policies, limited budget allocation, teacher and classroom shortages, poor infrastructure, cultural norms, health and safety concerns, and child labor.

To tackle this challenge, UNICEF says it is collaborating with the Universal Basic Education Commission to develop the “National Framework of Action to Reduce the Number of Out-of-School Children in Nigeria” and the “Retention, Transition, and Completion Model.”

During the two-day meeting, UNICEF aims to develop strategies and models for reducing the number of out-of-school children and enhancing the retention, transition, and completion of adolescents in secondary schools.

“I envisage that after this meeting, we will have clear, targeted, and state-specific strategies that will further ensure that we reduce the rate of out-of-school children and enhance retention, transition, and completion,” Dr. Rane added.

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