The United Nations Children Education Fund (UNICEF) said it had identified 240,560 out-of-school children in three Local Government Areas (LGAs) of Zamfara State.
The affected LGAs are Bukkuyum, Maradun and Zurmi
The Chief of UNICEF in charge of Sokoto Field office, Mohameden Fall, disclosed this on Friday, April 20, 2018 in Zurmi at the launching of cash transfer disbursement to parents of affected children under the UNICEF’s Educate A Child (EAC) project.
He said the number was derived from the household mapping and listing of out-of-school children conducted in 2016 through the state Universal Basic Education Board when the number of out-of-school children was identified in the three LGAs.
“In Bukkuyum, a total of 93,849 out-of-school children were identified with 41,134 males while 52,715 were females.
“In Maradun 63,943 were identified with 28,963 males and 34,980 females while Zurmi has a total of 82,768 children with 38,286 males and 82,768 females,” he said.
Fall also noted that the EAC project was bring funded by Qatar Foundation as personal initiative of Sheikh Nasser of Qatar and implemented by UNICEF in collaboration with Sokoto, Kebbi, Katsina and Zamfara state governments.
According to him, the overall aim of the EAC was to extend the access to quality of basic education for 501, 749 out-of-school children across the four states by 2020.
“We are targeting to reach out 10,347 in the first phase in Zamfara State, considering the alarming number of out-of-school children in the state.
“We are calling on the state government to extend this programme to other local government areas,” he said.
The project was initiated to assist households in sending their children and keeping them in school, in the benefiting communities who will receive an unconditional cash transfer of N8,000 per child that falls between six and 11 years for the period of two years.
“Cash transfer is one of the seven strategic interventions under the EAC to enable the government of the target states and UNICEF to reach more out-of-school children,” he said.
He thanked the state government for the recent award of N1billion contract for school renovation and the release of over N1 billion UBE counterpart funding on UNICEF intervention.
In his remark, the state Commissioner of Budget and Economic Planning, Alhaji Ibrahim Birnin-Magaji thanked the UNICEF and Qatar Foundation for initiating the project.
Birnin-Magaji said that the project was complementing the state government policy of promoting pupils enrollment and enhancement of basic education in the state.
He said the state government was ready to continue to partner with the UNICEF and other development partners to improve quality education in the state.
“The state government is committed to enhance teaching and learning in the state, from 2011 to date, we have renovated over 4,000 classrooms to reduce congestion of pupils.
“We trained over 8,000 teachers and established 50 ICT centers across the primary and junior secondary schools in the state.
“These efforts have increased our enrollment drive from 283,000 in 2012 to 600,000 as of now”, he said.
Birnin-Magaji said the plan was one the ways to recruit more teachers and implement N18,000 minimum wage for primary and junior secondary school teachers in the state.
Earlier, the state SUBEB Chairman, Murtala Jangebe, Commended the State Government and UNICEF for the project, saying that it would increase the pupils’ enrolment in the state.
Jangebe said 3,449 children have been selected from the 14 communities to benefit from the assistance of N8,000 under the project per term, per child.
“We are disbursing N27 million as first phase to beneficiaries from Alawa, Kadage, and Doka communities from the three LGAs of Bukkuyum, Maradun and Zurmi respectively.
”In each of the selected LGA, one community was chosen for the flag-off as first phase and we are going to continue with the remaining 11 communities,” he said.
By Abubakar Ahmed