An annual national school enrolment campaign has been flagged off by the federal government as part of efforts to reduce the rate of out-of-school children in the country.
The Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, kicked off the campaign at the Tudun Salmanu Primary School, Bauchi State.
According to him, the federal government, through the Ministry of Education, is targeting enrolment of 2,875,000 pupils and construction of additional 71,875 classrooms annually for four years.
The nationwide campaign is aimed at sensitising parents and stakeholders to enroll school-age children into pre-primary and primary schools for the 2017/2018 academic session.
Adamu in his keynote address at the event said that the issue of out-of-school children was a critical component of the Ministerial Strategic Plan (MSP) and a special area of focus by his ministry.
He commended the Bauchi State government for partnering the ministry to launch the campaign.
He said the ministry also plans to recruit teachers in anticipation of the increased enrolments.
Malam Adamu who was represented by the registrar of the Teachers’ Registration Council of Nigeria (TRCN), Professor Josiah Ajiboye said that the school enrolment campaign was a deliberate project of the ministry targeting children ages three to six years for enrolment into the formal school system.
He noted that allowing children to continue to roam the streets as well as illiteracy are major factors behind the security challenges being faced by the country.
Adamu disclosed that the National Enrolment Drive Framework for reducing out-of-school children was approved by the National Council on Education (NCE) in 2016 as a guide for effective coordination of the campaign at each level of government.
He announced his desire to organise a high-level meeting with state governors and other key players in the sector to further discuss the menace of out-of-school children, adding that the Ministry recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the National Youth Service Corps to enlist Early Childhood Education in the Community Development Service.
Bauchi State governor, Muhammad Abubakar, in his address at the occasion stated that the emergence of Boko Haram increased the challenge of out-of-school children in the northeast region of the country.
He noted that even though Bauchi State was not hit directly as much as other states, managing the influx of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) is quite challenging.
Governor Abubakar, who was represented by his Special Adviser on Education, Comrade Sabo Mohammed, called for more collaboration from the federal government and all interest groups, including international development partners, promising that communities in the state would be adequately mobilised for an effective school enrolment process.
The high point of the occasion was the symbolic registration of some pupils and decorating them with school uniforms and bags by representatives of the minister of education and the Governor supported by the Emir of Dass, Alhaji Usman Bilyamin.
The Director of Basic and Secondary Education in the Ministry, Mr. Mohammed Karage presented 200 school bags with writing materials to the Bauchi State officials for distribution to pupils, while colourful drama presentation and debate were also staged to further drive home the message on why children should be enrolled in schools.