Kogi State Governor Yahaya Bello has restated the commitment of his Administration to drastically reduce the number of Out-of-School children in the state.
The governor gave the assurance at the inauguration of the “National Identification and Enrolment Drive and Campaign on Out-of-School Children,” by the Federal Ministry of Education (FMoE), in Lokoja.
Represented by the state’s Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology, Hon. Wemi Jones, the governor stressed that he had taken education as number one priority in the thematic areas of focus under his New Direction Administration.
According to him, the government sees education as the only channel through which we can emancipate our people on a sustainable basis.
He reassured of his determination not to spare a kobo to making sure that education was totally revamped in Kogi.
“This is why the national identification and enrolment drive and campaign on out-of-school children by the Federal Ministry of Education is very paramount to us in the state.
“We have envisioned this ahead of time, and we have taken steps towards ensuring that we do not get caught in the web,” he said.
He noted that from the statistics available, Kogi has the least out-of-school children among the 19 Northern States of Nigeria, due to the particular attention his government had placed on issue of education in Kogi.
He said he had assented the Kogi State Education Law 2020, which had made it to become a crime in Kogi for any child of school age to be found outside the school during the official school hours.
“When such a child is spotted he/she will be arrested until the parents of that child come forth to explain why the child is not in school.
“Presently, Kogi is running 20 per cent budgetary allocation to education, and by 2022 we shall be running allocation of 30 per cent to education which is above the 26 per cent recommended by UNESCO,” he said.
He, therefore, restated the commitment of the State Government to drastically reduce the number of Out-of-School children in the state to a bare minimum.
He thanked the FMoE for the laudable initiative, assuring that the state would continue to partner with them by giving the necessary support in ensuring that education is completely transformed in the state.
In his remarks, the Permanent Secretary, FMoE, Arc. Sonny Echono, said the Minister of Education, the idea of enrolling all school age children seems like an uphill task but assured that with joint efforts the challenge is surmountable.
Represented by Mr Mohammed Sidi-Ali, Deputy Director, FMoE Headquarters, Abuja, Echono, reaffirmed the determination of the federal ministry to ensure that out-of-school were returned to school, thereby reducing the number to its barest minimum.
“The ministry is set to carry out an identification of school age children that are not in school and to ensure their enrolment in schools nearest their homes as well as provide them with some basic school materials.
“The ministry believes that such children who enroll in school will remain, complete and transit to higher levels, when the enabling environment is created for learning,” Echono said.
He urged stakeholders to ensure that children especially those indigent children within their communities were offered support and sponsored in their different vocations to achieve a better and safer community for all.
The materials distributed to the children include: school bags, socks, sandals, uniforms and other stationeries.