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Opinion

Our Children Need to Be in School

Education, of course, opens up the mind, expands it, and allows you to improve your life in many ways. This was why Ben Franklin said: “If a man empties his purse into his head, no man can take it away from him. An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.”

In a statement issued by UNICEF to mark Day of the African Child in 2019, the organisation’s representative in Nigeria, Peter Hawkins, said 10 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, have eight million out-of-school children and over 10.5 million children are unable to access safe and quality education, due to the ongoing crisis in the North-east.

UNICEF’s claim is like fiction that has credibility. It is not something any rational Nigerian would deny as it is very visible, even to the blind. Our country, especially the core Northern part, is suffering from insularism. We are still living a life of backwardness and we are not ready to embrace the modern world. Our society is chauvinistic; we give more value and honour to male children than their female counterparts. We believe women’s role in society does not exceed the kitchen and the ‘other room’. Hence, we do not see the need for them to be educated. According to the statistics released by UNICEF, out of the 13.2 million children, 60 per cent of them are girls, many of whom were enrolled in school but dropped out along the line to marry prematurely. 

Also, parental destitution and ignorance would also make a child be wandering around when his mates are in school, learning. This practice is prevalent in the Hausa-Fulani societies. We have al-majiris in virtually every state in the north. Their belief that it is God that takes care – and thereby shun family planning and keep breeding poverty. Would it not be like asking a blind man to put a thread in a needle if we expect average Nigerian parents to give their wards quality and sound education? 

In Nigeria, the high percentage of illiteracy, especially among the growing generation, has resulted in different societal problems the country has been facing for decades. Stating from serial killings of Nigerians by Boko Haram in the North East, Bandits in the North West, Kidnapping in South West, Headsmen in the North Central, and Niger Delta Militant in the South. All these cancerous sects were formed because of a lack of quality education which they were denied at their young age. 

In recent times, some states in the North have been putting up intense measures to combat Al-majerilism in the region. We need laws and enforcement that would mandate every parent to see it as an obligation to put their wards in school. And if the government, at all levels, could make education free, especially from the basic stage, for all children, surely, our streets would be free of wandering children.

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