Stakeholders decry rising school dropouts

By Egbe Attah, Otukpo

Stakeholders in the education sector have lamented the increase in out-of-school children in Nigeria. This follows a recent statement by Rahama Farah, the head of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) office in Kano that; “currently in Nigeria, there are 18.5 million out-of-school children, 60% of whom are girls.”

The Voice on Tuesday in Otukpo Benue State, spoke with stakeholders in the education sector on this hydra-headed monster that has been threatening the nation.

Speaking, a veteran educationist, Chief Icha Adole, warned that if drastic action is not taken to address the anomaly, the future of the nation would remain bleak, pointing out that “an illiterate generation cannot function properly to bring the needed development.”

He explained that the problem of insurgency would continue to stare the nation in the face as illiterate children readily become tools in the hands of evil agents.

Chief Adole, opined that the issue of poverty, high cost of living, negligence for education and juvenile delinquency should be addressed, adding that the get- rich-quick-syndrome attitude among the youths should be discouraged.

Speaking separately, the Principal of Ewulo College, Otukpo, Odeh Idda and that of Otukpo Community School, Upu, Arc. Sunny Ewada, said improper mentorship by parents is responsible for the rise in the number of out-of-school children.

The school heads, further observed that most children cannot afford the luxury of going to school due to poverty, lack of parental care, insecurity among others.

Corroborating the duo, the Education Secretary for Otukpo Local Government, Augustine Okwoli, held that the acts of banditry ravaging the nation is as a result of such fallout and advised that all school age children must be enrolled.

A young girl (name withheld), who claimed to be an orphan while speaking, said she was stopped from going to school by her foster mother, who prefers using her for hawking and other domestic chores. She said if given the opportunity, she would be glad to go back to school, while calling on God to rescue her.

“I dey for school and my parents die. We be seven children and they share us for our relations. I live with my uncle for Otukpo, him wife no won see me for face at all. Since, I join them, she no allow me go school. She dey maltreat me and use me for plenty work. I dey sell groundnut, orange, banana and okpa for street. I go happy if I go back to school. God please, help me,” she said in pidgin English with tears dripping from her eyes.

Others who spoke, including, Emmanuel Ogwola of Jesus College, Otukpo, Samuel Egwurube all said there is need for all children to be in school to avert further calamities in the land even as they pleaded that the current strike by university lecturers be settled and called off.

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