Out Of School Children hawking in Alkaleri LGA of Bauchi State. Photo: Murtala Muhammad

By Murtala Muhammad

Parents in Alkaleri local government area of Bauchi State says socio-cultural and economic reasons are the key factors restraining them from enrolling their children in formal school.

The parents who gave the excuses during a field trip to Alkaleri LGA, organized by the UNICEF’s Bauchi Field Office, said they were disturbed by the situation of the young children hawking by the roadsides, however cannot deal with the problem head long, due to economic hardship being experienced.

The field trip was organised for journalists from four out of its five focused states of Adamawa, Bauchi, Gombe and Taraba.

A father of ten, Bala Abubakar, Masori Sabon Gida community in the local council told Radio Nigeria that he had the opportunity of enrolling four of his children into primary school, but economic challenges forced him to withdraw them.

Bala Abubakar, a parent in Masori, Sabon Gida Community of Alkaleri LGA.

Another respondent, Bayero Abubakar, also of the same community, said people of the community were willing to enroll their children in school, however cannot do that, because of poverty.

He claimed that provision of Uniforms, Sandals and writing materials for the children, were among other challenges that scare parents from enrolling their children into schools, be it Western or Islamic.

Worried by the number of young girls hawking by the roadside, Malam Dahiru Musa, forty years, said the practice was posing eminent danger on the children’s development and positive thinking.

He regretted that they were receiving reports of sexual abuse against the hawking children particularly girls.

While calling on the state government to intervene in the provision of school Uniforms and learning materials, the parents added that it would definitely encourage others to send the children to schools and become better citizens of the state and the country in general.

A mother of twelve-year old sickle cell patient, Safiya Rabi’u, who lamented the condition of her child, said she was divorced because she insisted that the boy must be sponsored to acquire basic education.

Fourteen-year old Fatima Isah, is one of the Out Of School Children in Alkaleri and told Radio Nigeria she was not happy that her father do not enroll her into any formal school and even the Islamic school she was going, her education pursuit cut off due to poverty in the family.

Halima Mohammed, seventeen-year old food vendor, who was emotionally touched said initially, her dream was to become a medical doctor, but dropped out at primary four, following her mother’s death.

A father of four, Malam Bappa Muhammad of Gunciguni community, rejected the idea of hawking by the young girls, noting that three of his children were enrolled in a formal school to acquire basic education, however expressed concern over the dilapidated nature of the school’s three-block classes in the community.

The increase in the number of Out Of School Children (OOSC) in Bauchi state is alarming, giving the 2022 data of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) report which reveals that the state’s record of OOSC is 1,239,759. followed by Zamfara with 883,952.

The data indicates that Katsina state is the third with 873,633; Kano has 837,479, Jigawa with 784,391, while Kaduna state has 652,990 and Gombe 567,852.

All these states are in the northern part of the country, which means the governments have to step up to address the threat.

UNICEF laments that in Nigeria “despite the diverse importance of education, and though primary education is officially free and compulsory, about 10.5 million of the country’s children aged 5-14 years are not in school”.

It further states that only 61 percent of 6-11 year-olds regularly attend primary school and only 35.6 percent of children aged 36-59 months receive early childhood education, noting very child has a right to learn.

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