The Gombe State Government has launched the Better Education Service Delivery for All, BESDA, Programme, targeting the poor, children of internally displaced people and school drop outs and get them back to school.
BESDA is a Federal Government/ World Bank funded project aimed at mopping up Out-of-School children, as well as improve literacy and straighten the education system.
The introduction of the BESDA programme was borne out of the concern that Nigeria accounted for 45% of Out-of-School children indices of the Global Education for All Monitoring Report, which stands at 13.5 million children, out of which Gombe State accounted for 574, 000.
Governor Muhammadu Inuwa Yahaya, said it was disheartening that the state should have such a number of out-of-school children, but vowed to reverse the trend.
“If you compromise education, the future is at stake. No investment can be too high on education. Our experience with Boko Haram and other security threats in recent years are classical examples of the price we have to pay for our nonchalant attitude towards education,” Governor Yahaya said.
He challenged the traditional institutions to key into the programme, so as to have the needed peace in their domain.
“I challenge the traditional leadership to sit up and make sure we take up these children, because they are your children. If you say they are not your children, then fine, but these children can cause you discomfort. Some chiefs, First Class Leaders had to flee their kingdom or chiefdoms and relocate because of Boko Haram. So, we saw it from others, so we must learn to do the correct thing, so that they don’t even come here,” the Gombe State Governor said.
Reasons for out-of-school children
The Chairman of the Gombe State Universal Basic Education Board, Mr. Babaji Babadidi, said the programme would ensure house-to-house mapping, which would determine the number of out-of-school children in the state as well as the reasons.
“These and many other reasons prompted the Federal Government, under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari and development partners like the World Bank, UNICEF, USAID, AFDB and others to embark on carrying out an holistic approach to deal with the issue decisively. Hence the need for the house to house mapping and enumeration with a view to obtaining actual number of out of school children, as the figures mentioned is based on projection from 2006 head count,” Mr. Babadidi said.
For Professor Salisu Shehu, a Professor of Education Psychology at the Bayero University, Kano, all interventions and implementing efforts should be focused on enhancing and employing qualified teachers as well attitudinal change towards education and the enrolment of children into school.
“We have a problem of attitude and I think for the success of this programme, the programme should embark upon an attitudinal change focus sensitisation. Sensitisation programme that is focus on changing attitude. We don’t take education serious and we have very poor attitude to education. I think the success of this programme depends on attitudinal change focus programme,” Prof. Shehu said.
In the same vein, the Field Officer of the United Nations Children Fund, UNICEF, in Bauchi, Dr. Bhanu Patak, said the Better Education Service Delivery for All Programme would ensure a house-to-house enumeration of out of children to determine the actual number and reasons for it.
Dr. Patak however said that could be achieved when the public and UNICEF collaborate to sensitize the public and get children back to school.
Governor Yahaya however called for urgent measures by all stakeholders, especially so as to avoid future crisis from illiteracy, like the Boko Haram insurgency being tackled in the country.