Education minister contradicts ministry’s official figures on out-of-school children

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Nigeria’s Minister of State for Education, Mr Chukuemeka Nwajiuba has made a contradictory claim to the official figures of out-of-school children in the country.

While speaking on Thursday in Jigawa State, the minister said Nigeria has more than 10 million out-of-school children.

But official data from the ministry in January stated that the figure is about 3 million lesser than that.

Nwajiuba made his statement at the launching of Better Education Service Delivery for All (BESDA) in Dutse.

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

“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,” the minister said.

Outdated figures

EduCeleb.com understands that the figure Mr Nwajuiba quoted is from two years ago and is therefore outdated.

Data on school enrollment and out-of-school children are collected and published annually through departments and agencies in the Federal Ministry of Education.

EduCeleb.com had reported on this figure in 2019 based on data it obtained from the ministry that over 10.1 million children were out-of-school, from which 62 percent were boys while 38 percent were girls.

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Children are categorised as out-of-school if they are within the basic education schooling age but are not enrolled in school or did not completed at least primary school education.

Current figures

As of the 2020/2021 academic year, the education ministry had declared that the figure of out-of-school children was now about 6.95 million.

Speaking at a press briefing in January, Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu stated this.

Incidentally, the new figure from 2020 given by Adamu was attributed to successes achieved through BESDA.

“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,” he said.

Mr Adamu revealed this at the 2020 Annual Ministerial briefing in Abuja on Thursday, 21st January.

BESDA is a $611 million World Bank loan initiative in 17 states including all of the North East and North West zones along with Niger, Oyo, Ebonyi and Rivers.

The loan facility is being used to address the first pillar of the Ministerial Strategic Plan (MSP) on out-of-school children.

The ministry said it had been responsible for an additional enrolment of 1,053,422 children.

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Mr Adamu back then hinted on efforts working with the National Association of Proprietors and School Owners of Nigeria to reduce the number of out-of-school children.

He said the association had taken over one million out-of-school children off the streets, with each private school sponsoring five pupils.

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