President Muhammadu Buhari has inaugurated an 18-member Presidential Steering Committee on Alternate School Programme, with Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajiya Sadiya Farouq as the chairman.
This is contained in a statement signed by Mrs. Nneka Anibeze, the Special Assistant on Media to the minister on Tuesday in Abuja.
The statement said Buhari charged Farouq’s ministry to coordinate and lead the deployment of a National Plan to address the issue of out-of-school children in the country.
The president said it was unacceptable to see children abandoning formal school to engage in menial jobs and child labour in markets, streets and workshops.
He implored all members of the committee to take the assignment with utmost seriousness, adding that “The future of our young people is at stake”.
In her response, Farouq thanked the president for his support to the ministry and for granting the approval for the programme.
She noted that number of out of -school children was increasing at an alarming rate, stressing the urgent need to address the problem with deft response.
“Education serves as a catalyst for the all-round growth and development of any individual.
“Thus, for any nation to thrive, adequate investment in human capital, by increasing access to quality education, must be prioritised.
“The United Nations identifies quality education as one of the most powerful and proven vehicles for attaining sustainable development,” Farouq said.
According to her, those mostly affected by this scourge include the girl-child, almajiri-children predominantly in the North and children of nomadic pastoralists spread across the country.
She also listed incidences of boy child drop-out mainly in the South-East and South-South regions
She said others were street children in the South-West, children of migrant fishermen in the South-South, and more recently the internally displaced children in the North-East, occasioned by the Boko Haram insurgency and insecurity.
She assured the president that the committee would leverage on the ministry’s social protection instruments including N-Power, the Conditional Cash Transfer and the Home-Grown School Feeding Programmes to provide tailored delivery mechanisms for the programme.
The statement added that other members of the Committee included Minister of Education as Co-Chairman, Minister of State of Education Member, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Alhaji Bashir Alkali as the Secretary.
Others are Minister of State, Budget and National Planning, Chairman, Northern Governors’ Forum, Senior Special Assistant to the President on the Sustainable Development Goals, Executive Secretary, Universal Basic Education Commission and Director General, National Youth Service Corps.
The committee also included National President, Association of Local Governments of Nigeria, Representative, United Nations’ Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization and Representative United Nations’ International Children’s Emergency Fund.
Representative, Global Partnership for Education, Chairman, Private Sector Advisory Group, chairman, Civil Society Coalition on Sustainable Development, Chairman, Senate Committee on Basic Education, Chairman, House Committee on Basic Education and Dr Shehu Balarabe Kakale. (NAN).

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