From Abdulrazaq Mungadi, Gombe

Gombe State Government has commended the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) for its efforts in responding to the menace of out-of-school children in the state. The government’s commendation came after UNICEF supported the state government in drafting a framework to domesticate the national framework of action to reduce out-of-school children in the state.

According to the state’s Commissioner of Education, Aishatu Maigari, the response by UNICEF followed the state governor’s call and appeal at the United Nations (UN) General Assembly. She said, “UNICEF has answered the call of the Governor at the UN General Assembly when he said they should support Gombe state in tackling the menace of out-of-school children”.

The commissioner stated this in an interview with at a policy dialogue with relevant stakeholders on education to address the out-of-school children phenomenon and the development of an action plan in Gombe. She stated that the dialogue which was organized by the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) in collaboration with the Bauchi field office of the UNICEF would enhance inclusive education in the state, and ultimately reduce the number of out-of-school children.

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“Gombe is affected by so many unfavorable circumstances because of the relative peace in the state and being at the center of the Northeast, we have had so many influxes of people coming to find refuge in Gombe, a few months back Gombe has been adjusted to be number one state in terms of security, you can imagine people coming to Gombe to find succor in terms of livelihood. You see the stress on our facilities, if we have a budget let’s say for twenty students in our schools, you will find out that we have fifty and the additional thirty are not even from Gombe that’s just a hypothetical number,” the commissioner said.

She further disclosed that Gombe has about 700,000 out-of-school children adding that collaborations with UNICEF and stakeholders as well as other donor and UN agencies are a sure way of reducing the menace. She said, “We have over 200 million people now in Nigeria, if we don’t have this kind of collaboration and planning we will not be making a meaningful impact, we need to be pulling out small from the pool of out-of-school children while also caring for the in school children”.

Meanwhile, on his part, the UNICEF Education Specialist, Mr Abdulrahaman Ado disclosed that Gombe is one of the states the UNICEF’s Bauchi field office is partnering with almost all the activities on education, towards improving access to quality education. “At the National level, we have developed a National framework of action to reduce out-of-school children and what we are looking at is to domesticate this National framework at the state level. Today’s activity we have brought all the stakeholders for them to see the framework of action and see how we can domesticate it at the state level,” he explained.

“We have looked at the policy, and we have even domesticated the framework at the state level, what we are doing now is to develop a specific action plan on how to reduce the rate of out-of-school children. We want to strengthen the education system, by improving access and quality, if we are talking about out-of-school children, the in school should not be left behind, That is why we are using a systematic approach to come up with an innovative strategy how to ensure quality learning is taking place,” Abdulrahman told newsmen.