By Peter Uwumarogie
A Non Governmental Organisation (NGO), `Save the Children Community Engagement and Advocacy’, has called on Gombe State Government to intensify awareness creation to improve school enrolment for 2019/2020 academic session.
Mr Akpan Effiong, Co-ordinator of the NGO, made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Gombe on Tuesday.
Effiong said that the call became necessary given the number of out-of-school children, put at 450,000 by a Universal Basic Education (UBE) report.
He said that 450,000 out-of-school children in Gombe was an educational crisis that needed all stakeholders’ input to be addressed.
Effiong noted that failure to tackle the menace could lead to an upsurge in crimes.
“The state government needs to convene a stakeholders’ summit where religious and traditional leaders, opinion moulders, parents and community heads, will have to discuss exhaustively the issue at hand and proffer solutions.
“The state government should also reach out to the private sector that is willing for partnership toward addressing the educational challenges.
“By bringing in their resources to bridge the gap in the sector and improve school enrolment,’’ Effiong said.
According to him, it is sad to know that out of 13.2 million out-of-school children in Nigeria, Gombe has over 450, 000 children roaming the streets and most of them are girls.
He suggested that the government must act fast by declaring a state of emergency with action and result-oriented policies to reverse the situation at hand and investing heavily in the sector.
Effiong decried the deliberate refusal by most states to pay their counterpart fund under the Universal Basic Education (UBE) initiative of the Federal Government to boost enrolment and improve education.
He noted that the UBE initiative was a window by the Federal Government that must be harnessed by states to boost education in their domains and address increasing educational imbalance in the country.
“I appeal to the new administration in Gombe State to be up-to-date with such payment to attract more investments for the good of the state,’’ the NGO coordinator said.
Mrs Suuda Mustapha, the Chairperson, Better Life for Girls Group in Gombe, told NAN that in addressing the out-of-school menace, priority should be given to the girl-child.
According to Mustapha, for any government that wants to end poverty, investing in girl-child education should be the way out.
“When the girl-child is educated, she is empowered to solve the challenges of life,” she said.
She expressed confidence that the present administration would deliver on its campaign promises as regards education.
Mustapha called on major stakeholders to support the government to boost school enrolment in Gombe State. (NAN)