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10.1m or 6.9m? Education ministers give conflicting figures on out-of-school children

10.1m or 6.9m? Education ministers give conflicting figures on out-of-school children
March 20
07:42 2021

In the space of two months, Adamu Adamu, minister of education, and Chukuemeka Nwajiuba, minister of state for education, have given conflicting figures about the number of out-of-school children in the country.

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The ministers mentioned different figures while appraising the federal government’s Better Education Service Delivery for All (BESDA) initiative.

WHAT IS BESDA?

BESDA is a World Bank-supported programme that was initiated to reduce the number of out-of-school children in Nigeria.

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In June 2017, the World Bank approved a credit of $611 million to support Nigeria in bringing out-of-school children back into the classrooms.

So far, the initiative has launched in Niger, Oyo, Adamawa, Ebonyi, Yobe, Borno, Bauchi, Zamfara states, and recently in Jigawa.

‘6.9 MILLION IN JANUARY’

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On January 21, 2021, Adamu had said the number of out-of-school children had reduced from 10.1 million in 2019 to 6.95 million in 2020.

The minister had said: “Under the initiative of BESDA, the Federal Government secured a World Bank credit facility of $611 million to support 17 states in strengthening the Universal Basic Education.

“I can, however, tell you that through the BESDA initiative, we have reduced the figure of out-of-school children from 10.1 million since May 2020 to 6,946,328 million.”

‘10.1 MILLION IN MARCH’

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Barely two months after Adamu’s comment, Nwajiuba, the junior minister, said Nigeria now has 10.1 million out-of-school children.

According to NAN, Nwajiuba made the comment on Thursday during the launch of BESDA in Jigawa state.

“With an estimated 10,193,918 children out-of-school, Nigeria has the highest number of out-of-school children in Sub-Saharan Africa,” Nwajiuba said.

“For us to address these challenges adequately, therefore, we must strengthen the quality of basic education in Nigeria by confronting head-on those factors that deny our children access to basic education.”

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EDUCATION MINISTRY AGREES WITH ADAMU 

When asked for clarification, Ben Goong, spokesman of the ministry of education, told TheCable that the 6.95 million given by Adamu is the correct figure.

Goong also reiterated that the number of out-of-school children had reduced from 10.1 million to 6.95 million.

He said although the figure given by Nwajiuba was obtainable 18 months ago, it would however be “incorrect” to say the minister of state is wrong.

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“No, you will not be right to say that. You will be right to say that the figure he (minister of state for education) said is actually the figure of about one and half years ago. You can’t say it is not correct,” the spokesman said.

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