The rising cases of children dropping out of schools in Gombe state, especially the girl child who is being subjected to early marriage, is receiving serious attention from stakeholders.
To address this, a group known as the Gombe State Youth Advocate, with UNICEF, is advocating a change in cultural orientation, as well as improvement in education funding to ensure that no child is left out in the acquisition of knowledge.
The President of the Gombe State Youth Advocate, Mr. Mubarak Mijinyawa, told journalists in Gombe, that the group had planned to run its programmes throughout the year, targeting international and national events as windows for mobilization and advocacy.
Mijinyawa reeled out a recent data released by UNESCO which revealed that over six hundred thousand children were out of school in Gombe alone.
According to him, current indicators show that between 2017 and 2018, the Annual School Census showed that 56.1% of children never went to school, while 12.4% of children cannot read and less than 24% of school age-children attend primary school.
The data also showed that there was a 45% enrolment of girls in primary school; 18.74% of female literate of the total population, while the average gross Attendance Rate for primary school stands at 47% and 14% for junior secondary school.
He attributed the development to inadequate funding, poor infrastructure, low quality of teachers and insecurity, among others.
The group had held a one-week capacity building workshop on Advocacy for 100 youths from all the 11 local government areas of the state to mark the Day of the African Child, with the theme “Every Child must complete quality education in Gombe State,”.
Mijinyawa said the Youths of Gombe State would sustain such strategic engagements with policymakers and highly influential persons to get their attention on the need to meet their commitments to increase access to safe, quality education for all children, especially girls.
Mijinyawa said the Gombe State Government should particularly increase the funding for education by 10%, out of which 50% should go to funding basic education as well as ensure adequate and timely release of counterpart funding for Basic Education.
He also wants the establishment of model schools, conduct a comprehensive competency needs assessment for all teachers to determine areas of support to improve learning outcomes and support evidence planning and budgeting in the education sector.
He equally called on parents and caregivers to send all their young children to school and ensure they completed school.
The Youth Leader also called on Religious and Traditional Leaders to advocate for girls’ education, ensure that all children in their localities go to school and also insist on the religious duties parents have to educate all their children.
He also called on the female members of the advocacy group, who are mostly students of tertiary institutions to be role models to their peers and ensure that the younger ones attend school.
He said Civil Society Organisation should strengthen advocacy and capacity at the grassroots while the media should create awareness on the situation and benefits for girls’ education and give high priority to girls’ education and education for all.
Mijinyawa expressed the organisation’s appreciation to UNICEF and the Gombe State Basic Education Board for the support they had given in training their members.