Mrs Aisha Buhari, the wife of Nigeria President, Muhammadu Buhari has described as disheartening the population of out-of-school children in northern Nigeria. In recent years, the country, especially the northern region in general, and the north-eastern region in particular, have suffered from continued attacks by Boko Haram, a terrorist group.
Their activities have led to over three million people becoming Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and have disrupted agricultural produce and decimated educational infrastructure and activities in the North East zone. Furthermore, terrorist activities have exacerbated the socio-economic disparities between northern and southern Nigeria. Even prior to the terrorist insurgency, a high percentage of school-aged children in northern Nigeria did not have access to basic education and the region usually ranked lowest on most socio-economic and educational indices.
Aside these frightening statistics, 9 out of every under-age-child-beggar you see on Nigerians roads beseeching cars on traffic soliciting for alms are kids from northern Nigeria, which has helped countries of the world to rank Nigeria low because over 13million under aged kids are out of school and the numbers are growing on daily basis because insurgency has remained on the increase with the federal government seemingly helpless.
Mrs Buhari, at the inauguration of her pet project, Future Assured Youth Education and Empowerment Programme (FAYEEP), which would train 750 young persons in Adamawa, said the situation required government’s urgent attention. She said, “The case is most disheartening in the northern states where insurgency, poverty and our socio-cultural norms have played key roles in further worsening what is left of the ruins of dilapidated structures, insufficient and poorly motivated teachers at all levels.”
She said education deprivation in northern Nigeria was driven by factors such as economic barriers and socio-cultural norms and practices that discourage attendance in formal education, especially for girls. Mrs Buhari, who was represented by Dr Abba Tahir, the Vice-President American University of Nigeria, Yola, called for sustained actions to tackle the phenomenon of out-of-school children in the country.
She said, “We cannot abandon them. We must realise that all development issues are interrelated and unless we figure out a way of addressing the root causes in education, health, nutrition, agriculture and economic empowerment – holistically, we may never create a balance in our development.”