The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) says 501,749 out-of-school children are being targeted in its Educate a child (EAC) programme in four northern states.
The organisation disclosed on Monday this during a media dialogue in Kebbi state.
The EAC programme was introduced as “a funding window” to reduce the number of out-of-school children in Katsina, Kebbi, Sokoto and Zamfara states by 2020.
Part of its components, according to UNICEF, include the cash transfer programme (CTP) in addition to other grant opportunities.
Speaking at the media dialogue, Isah Usman, CTP coordinator in Kebbi state, also said over 31,000 pupils in the state are currently being paid N8,000 every academic term to encourage learning.
According to him, CTP was introduced as a social security net to assist “the poorest of the poor in accessing education.”
“The pupils are being given the sum of N24,000 every year through the women caregivers like their mothers to enroll, stay in school and complete their education,” he said.
“The Cash transfer intervention under the EAC aims to reach 41,391 child beneficiaries and their female caregivers in four years: 31,044 in Kebbi state and 10,347 in Zamfara state.
“Kebbi and Zamfara states are considered as ‘educationally disadvantaged’ states in Nigeria. Despite the fact that primary education is officially free and compulsory, there are high number of out of school children, something this project aims to address.
“The poverty level of rural community members largely restricts their level of participation in the education of their children. Majority of them cannot afford purchases of basic learning materials, not to even support school infrastructural development.”
Lai Mohammed, minister of information, said the high number out-of-school children in the north posed serious danger to the children and the nation at large.
Mohammed, who was represented by Uche Chuta, an assistant director at the ministry, identified the major causes of the menace as poverty, early marriage, illiteracy and teenage pregnancy.