Only Political Will Can End Out-Of-School Children Problem — Rep Ihonvbere

Prof. Julius Ihonvbere, the Chairman, of the House of Representatives Committee on Basic Education and Services, has called for a political will coupled with policy consistency to address the problem of out-of-school children in the country.

Ihonvbere, (APC-Edo) representing Owan Federal Constituency, said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Sunday.

He also decried the growing population of children, describing it as a major embarrassment to the nation.

He said since the country is not facing a civil war; there is no reason why so many children should be out of school.

He attributed the problem to the insecurity in the North/ East and North/West, in addition to the growing unemployment and bankruptcy of small businesses.

“The issue of the growing number of out-of-school children is a major embarrassment.

“Technically, we have no civil war here, so there is no reason why so many children should be out of school.

“But given the insecurity particularly in the North East and North West, which has now spread all over the country, even growing number of unemployment, bankruptcy in the level of Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMSEs), many parents are unable to cater for their children.

“So what you get is that many children are out of school,” he said.

 Ihonvbere, however, said that the House of Representatives had taken some steps to address the problem.

According to him, his colleagues have raised more than 30 motions aimed at dealing with the problem of out-of-school children across the country.

“How do we get them back to school? How do we increase funding for education? How do we improve infrastructure? How do we redefine and reposition the concept of basic education?

“How do we move from certificate to ’’skillficate’’ because not everybody wants to get a university degree?

“How do we create a path for them, so that they will have basic knowledge but also specialise in what they are good at?

“So for us, it’s an ongoing concern. And if you look at how much members of the house put from their constituency votes into school refurbishment, construction and training of teachers, you will also see the level of our concern,” he added.

Though, he explained that the Federal Government had inaugurated a committee on alternative education to address the same concern.

 But he expressed worries that more than a year after the inauguration, there is no action yet.

I’m a member of that committee; it’s been over a year, and no action. We set up a technical committee that produced a report, but that is the last we heard.

“A technical committee has produced a full report on how we can go about reaching them, keeping them and sustaining them in school, and there is no policy output, talk more of action, then there is a problem.

“So we can make necessary legislation, but it is not much you can do,” he said.

He, therefore, called for a synergy among the local, state and Federal governments to tackle the growing population of children getting close to 20 million.

NAN

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