Bauchi commissioner challenges UNICEF’s data on out-of-school children

Playing children

The Bauchi State Commissioner for Education, Dr. Jamila Dahiru, has publicly disputed the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) figures regarding the number of out-of-school children in the state. During a recent ministerial press briefing in Bauchi, Dr. Dahiru refuted UNICEF’s claim that Bauchi has the highest number of out-of-school children in Nigeria, totaling approximately 1.2 million.

Dr. Dahiru questioned the methodology employed by UNICEF in arriving at this figure, suggesting that the data might not accurately reflect the current situation in Bauchi. According to the commissioner, significant strides have been made to reduce the number of out-of-school children in the state.

“UNICEF’s report of 1.2 million out-of-school children in Bauchi is not reflective of the substantial progress we have achieved,” Dr. Dahiru stated. “Our records indicate that the current number stands at around 700,000, following the successful enrollment of over 500,000 children back into schools.”

The commissioner highlighted several initiatives and programs implemented by the Bauchi State government aimed at improving school enrollment and retention rates. These efforts include community outreach programs, incentives for parents to send their children to school, and infrastructure improvements to make schools more accessible and conducive to learning.

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Dr. Dahiru’s rebuttal underscores a broader concern about the accuracy and reliability of data on educational development in Nigeria. The discrepancy between the state government’s data and that of an international organization like UNICEF raises questions about the data collection processes and the variables considered in such assessments.

While UNICEF’s figures place Bauchi as having the highest number of out-of-school children among Nigeria’s 36 states, the state government insists that the situation is improving significantly. The Ministry of Education in Bauchi is calling for a re-evaluation of the data and a collaborative approach to ensure that all children in the state have access to quality education.

“We are committed to ensuring that every child in Bauchi State has the opportunity to receive an education,” Dr. Dahiru said. “We welcome constructive engagement with UNICEF and other stakeholders to verify data and work together towards our common goal of education for all.”

As the debate over the numbers continues, the focus remains on the critical need to address the educational challenges in Bauchi and across Nigeria, ensuring that progress is made in reducing the number of out-of-school children and improving educational outcomes for all.

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