The Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), has said it will commence Open Schooling Programme across the 36 states of the federation by July, as part of strategies to reduce the number of Out-of-School children in the country.
The Executive Secretary, UBEC, Hamid Bobboyi, represented by Mr Unwaha Ismail in the Commission, disclosed this at the national stakeholders meeting on Open Schooling Programme in Nigeria, on Thursday in Abuja.
The programme was launched on 30th May, this year to reduce the large numbers of out-of-school children in Nigeria.
It will receive technical support from the Commonwealth of Learning, Canada.
Mr Bobboyi was quoted by the News Agency of Nigeria to have said that the issue of the out-of-school children had been on the increase for different reasons, but was now receiving great attention from the federal government.
“The federal government is thinking about putting an end to the issue by sending these children back to school, which is not only formal but non-formal education.
“UBEC has other initiatives for better basic education in the country; the out-of-school issue is multi-directional and has to be solved through multi-directional approach.
“We have education delivery for all programme, that is going on in the affected states to supervise them in the planning and to how we can reach as many as out-of-school children as possible,’’ he said.
He added that UBEC had meeting with other agencies few months ago on ways to tackle the large number of children that are out- of- school.
According to him, certain decisions were reached during the last meeting, and those decisions will be implemented, particularly on how other agencies can key into it.
“This will identify the role they are going to play and we are going to synergise on how UBEC is going to coordinate the activities that will involve.
“Open Schooling programme will start by July because a lot of things needs to be put in place as planned, we need to start as early as possible,’’ he said.
The executive secretary also said UBEC has not reached the stage of disclosing how much the commission was going to spend on the programme.
“We are working on what the cost elements involved in this programme would be, but what we are sure of is that Commonwealth of Learning (CoL) is going to give us technical support.
“Such support from the commonwealth will push this programme, but we also need to know which activities to be involved in, equipment needed to buy and other things we need to do.
“If all these are done, we can now disclose the estimated amount that the programme will cost,’’ he said.
The Executive Secretary of the National Mass Literacy, Adult and Non-formal Education (NMEC), Abba Haladu, represented by Mr Afiniki Achi, said Nigeria has a large number of illiterate and something needed to be done to address it.
Mr Haladu said NMEC was lagging behind and was in support of Open Schooling initiative as it addresses the issue of out-of- school children.
“We are all in this fight together and hope this meeting is going to give us fruitful deliberation that will bring about the important of basic education.
“NMEC, UBEC and other agencies are doing very well, but most stakeholders do not really know what we are doing.
“We want the public to know that we are really working towards the reduction of number of out- of- school children and, we hope to end this soon,’’ he said.
Also speaking, Director, Field Operations and Students Services National Teacher Institute (NTI), Akaaba Yakubu, said the Institute has been appreciative for the partnership with UBEC.
Mr Yakubu promised to continue pursuing anything education since it is the institute focus, adding that NTI will continue to impart knowledge in teachers and also equip them with the methodology to teach.
“The Out- of- School children issue is a great challenge to the country, the NTI partnership with UBEC will no doubt ensure that majority of these children are educated,’’ he added.
According to the Federal Ministry of Education in Nigeria, about 10.2 million children are not in school even though education is officially free and compulsory.