As millions of Nigerian children joined their counterparts elsewhere in the world to celebrate the 2021 Children Day on Thursday, there seems to be no respite yet for children who are out of school or the ones who are being compelled to sit and learn on the bare floor in their classrooms as well as those whose place of learning is the shade of trees in their schools.
And worried by the intractable problem of poor infrastructures in public schools across Nigeria, the House of Representatives Committee on Basic Education and Services, said the sight of Nigerian children either learning under the trees or sitting on bare floor in the classroom, in the 21st Century is an eyesore.
In statement issued by the Chairman and Deputy Chairman of the House Committee on Education, Hon. Julius Ihonvbere and Usman Zanna, to mark the 2021 Children Day Celebration, the Lower Chamber of the Nigeria Parliament’s Education Committee, said “It is embarrassing, to say the least, that in 2021 we still have children sitting on the floor or learning under trees; that we still have dilapidated buildings on school premises with the risks they pose to our children; and that there are schools without water, playgrounds, adequate furniture and toilets which encourages open defecation”.
The lawmakers said further that “It is equally important to note that many of our schools still lack perimeter fencing of any form which ordinarily is the first line of defence for our schools against rampaging kidnappers, ritualists, drug peddlers, hawkers, suicide bombers, and terrorists”.
The Committee urged state and federal governments to “address these issues through a strategic utilization of budgetary provisions, grants from development partners and the matching grants from the Universal Basic Education Commission”.
The lawmakers also lamented that the number of out-of-school and not-in-school children in Nigeria has now risen to 13 million and urged government to urgently address the problem. “We wish to draw attention to the growing numbers of Out of School and Not-in-School children numbering between 11 to 13 million in Nigeria.
“This is an army of potential recruits for the enemies of good governance and democracy. We commend the Federal Government on initiating the Alternate School Programme, as one of its numerous efforts to address this issue. More needs to be done including funding, monitoring and evaluation of the initiatives. States and local governments also have direct responsibility on this challenge especially as all Out-of-School and Not-in-School children live in local governments and states
Commenting on the Children Day celebration, the lawmakers said the occasion “gives us room to reflect on the rights of our children to good education, social security, safety, and love. “Our children have always made us proud. Many, in spite of the challenges in our school system, have excelled in sports, science, the arts, mathematics at regional, national and global competitions. We celebrate them and encourage them never to give up and to inspire their fellow children. “Today provides an opportunity for governments at all levels to rededicate themselves to the implementation of the Child Rights Act, the Violence Against Women Act, and the growing need to reform, reposition and revamp basic education in Nigeria.
We urge all the agencies in the education sector to continue to retool adequately for a purposeful post-Covid education delivery system for the protection and advancement of our children. Happy children’s to all Nigerian children
Children, Lament Poor Infrastructures