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Getting children back to school non-negotiable – Minister 

Anthony Iwuoma

Minister of State for Education, Hon. Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, on Tuesday, said  making education accessible to all children is a pathway to building the future of a greater country that Nigeria seeks to become, describing the quest as non-negotiable.

Nwajiuba made the observation when he joined the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Umar Farouq, as co-chair of the committee on strategic work  plan to ensure a hitch-free take-off and efficient administration of the Alternate School Programme (ASP) which has been adopted by the National Steering Committee.

The ASP is designed to bridge the gap of access to quality education for Out-Of-School-Children (OOSC) in the country.

The presentation, consideration and adoption of the report took place on Tuesday during the 4th meeting of the committee held at the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation, in Abuja.

Umar Farouq thanked the Technical Working Group for a detailed report, which is expected to help reduce illiteracy as well as  the number of Out-Of-School Children in the country.

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Umar Farouq stated  that the provision of operationalisation modalities would go a long way in starting off the ASP.

“I want to  appreciate the TWG team for a job well-done up to this point and we look forward to considering their output, as a team for implementation.

“I feel it is appropriate to remind us all of what this programme seeks to achieve and why it is of such importance to Mr. President.

“The partnership between the core MDAs at targeting the problem of Out-Of-School Children (OOSC) is brought about by the recognition that while education is a pathway out of poverty, it remains elusive and inaccessible for some segments of vulnerable populations.

“Leveraging on the Ministry’s Social Investment Programmes, a platform is provided for those groups  of the vulnerable poor to be able to take advantage of educational opportunities through the ASP and take a first step out of poverty in the long-term.

“While the programme in itself is well-intentioned, it is also ambitious. The very nature of OOSC populations, their size and rising numbers in Nigeria and the objectives of the ASP have determined that traditional approaches to educational programmes are challenged.

“I also thank members of the NSC for their continued patience and spirit of collaborative partnership that has encouraged dialogue and sharing of ideas.

“All members were invited for their unique value-add, and in considering the TWG presentation, I ask that we provide constructive comments to ensure the optimum implementation of the programme across the nation.”

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Earlier while presenting the report, the Chairman of the Technical Working Group, Dr. Umar Bindir, commended members of the group for their contributions in ensuring that the TWG presents a strategic  document for the ASP.

“We have made our research and consultations and this report we have come up with will ensure that the crisis of Out-of -school-Children in the country will be become a thing of the past.”

Part of the report reveals that after the ASP elapses, the children will be

onboarded to traditional schools for further vocational skills acquisition, relevant National Social Investment Programmes, relevant vocational skills and continued social studies sensitisation, among others.

Speaking on the occasion, Nwajiuba, who representated the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, emphasised the importance of getting children back to school.

He said achieving this is the panecea to the future of a greater country, which is non negotiable, adding that the Mnistry of Education is poised to ensure that every child gets educated in line with President Muhammadu Buhari’s vision for Nigeria.

He also thanked the Technical Working Committee (TWC) for being steadfast on Out-of-School Children mandate.