Out-of-School Children Challenge: The United Nations Children Emergency Fund (UNICEF) is set to tackle the issue of out-of-school children in Nigeria by 2027, according to a country development program obtained by The PUNCH. While the exact number of out-of-school children in May 2023 could not be officially verified, a 2022 UNESCO report estimated that Nigeria currently has approximately 20 million children out of school.
Discrepancy in Statistics: The Nigerian government argues that the country accounts for only 12.4% of the total number of out-of-school children in sub-Saharan Africa. However, experts point out that UNESCO’s statistics include children aged 6-18 years, while the Federal Government focuses only on those aged 6-11 years. This difference in age brackets causes the disparity in statistics between UNESCO and the government.
UNICEF’s Sustainable Model: UNICEF, in its country development program for 2023-2027, has outlined its plan to develop a sustainable model to address the out-of-school children challenge in Nigeria. The program aims to provide access to formal or non-formal education for 10 million children, ensure 4.8 million children have access to learning materials, scale up foundational literacy and numeracy in 21 states, establish integrated data systems for sector planning in 22 states, and improve education finance adequacy, efficiency, and equity in 12 states.
UNICEF’s upcoming model to tackle the out-of-school children issue in Nigeria by 2027 aims to make significant progress in education. While the exact number of out-of-school children remains uncertain, UNICEF’s efforts, along with previous initiatives that have supported girls’ enrollment and ensured continued learning during the COVID-19 pandemic, demonstrate a commitment to addressing the educational challenges in the country. The urgency to resolve these issues is highlighted by Nigeria’s low ranking in the Gender Index Gap, emphasizing the need for collaborative efforts to provide children with a well-rounded education.