By Modupe Macaulay,

Much has been said about the huge number of out-of-school children in Nigeria. Major barriers inhibit enrolment in schools, and these include individual differences among pupils, selection methods, the quota system of admission, gender discrimination, unaffordable costs, war and armed conflicts, limited admission spaces, natural disasters and so on. Addressing these problems is a global challenge. Across the world, poverty is the main barrier to education, over 60m all over the world don’t have education and not all children have access to education. They are denied the power to change their lives for the better.

Some kids go to school in the morning and work in the afternoon and evening to provide for the family. They are engaged in a variety of jobs. Some of these kids are usually abused physically and sexually and some end up in unwanted pregnancies. Deep root challenges fell on the girls going to school. Among them are the girls from the Northern State of Nigeria. Nomadic girls leaving home to go to school could be a dangerous venture. They are kidnapped by banditries, jihadists, etc. and this has killed the zeal and enthusiasm for them to get formal education.

According to UNICEF’s Report on Education Programme, it was reported that all children, no matter where they live or their circumstances, have the right to quality education. UNICEF in Nigeria supports children so they can attend school and learn. Top on the list of out-of-school children in Nigeria is in the Northern part. The “Above All Foundation” implemented by UNICEF in collaboration with the govt. to bring hope for Education in the Northwest Nigeria States of Katsina, Kebbi, Sokoto and Zamfara, UNICEF has trained School-Based Management Committee (SBMCs) to track out-of-school children and encourage their caregivers to send them to school. This has been achieved to a large extent.

Refugees’ children face a lot of challenges in many countries. For example, in Nasarawa, Northern State of Nigeria, IA-Foundation, a UK-based Non-Government Charity’s team paid a courtesy visit to the Internally Displaced Persons Camp, filled with children. They were sacked from their ancestral homes by terrorists. The CEO, Mrs. Ibironke Adeagbo, was passionate to learn about the children’s poor challenges and decided to recruit English and Mathematics teachers to fill in the gap. Educating children is providing life to many families.

In the Punch Newspaper Interview of 7th February 2020, Mrs. Ibironke Adeagbo, unveiled a plan for these vulnerable children and opined that the Foundation will pay the bursary of children from poor homes and reward excellence. She added that the group would work with the government at all levels to ensure the success of the scheme, which had already kicked off in Nasarawa, Lagos and Ogun States. They are also planning to set up an endowment fund for bright children if the set criteria for selection are met.

As a society, it is believed that there is a need to be consistent in striving to improve the quality of literacy and educational attainment of vulnerable children on the streets. This initiative to give hope to this category to reach their full potential was inspired by the Foundation. They were also motivated to support the reduction of the huge number of children that have not attended schools at all and the dropouts due to financial constraints. The Foundation has been making so much effort to

track out-of-children to enrol them back in school. Through their intervention mechanism, the CEO visited Nigeria on two occasions to join other professional volunteers to take to the streets of Lagos to raise awareness of Nigeria’s out-of-school crisis, pledging to make 1,000 additional kids benefit from the charity. The Charity Walk was aimed at raising awareness to express the organization’s displeasure with the huge number in Nigeria. The fidelity of the CEO and other role players of the Foundation gave rise to the sterling ethos.

In social media and television interviews granted her, she has been reiterating that the Foundation was targeting to bring additional 1,000 kids into its charity net in the next five years. This is a steady push by the group to tackle Nigeria’s worrisome out-of-school crisis. It is of joyful note that they currently have over 100 children on their bursary scheme in Lagos, Oyo, Delta, Ogun, Kwara, Abuja and Osun, where the group had been paying school fees, buying textbooks, uniforms, and catering for other extra-curricular activities of the children. Efforts are being made to take at least 200 children off the streets. A bursary of these kids up to the Secondary Level is also being advocated.

She recalled that the UK-based charity had carried out a similar outreach at Oshodi Market in Lagos, saying that the foundation was determined to carry out its campaign to other cities nationwide. According to her, they have also discussed with the Lagos State Commissioner for Education, Mrs. Folasade Adefisayo, to agree on areas of partnerships, to make the difference for children in Lagos State. She further expressed that the group had also discussed with the Chairman of Ifelodun Local Council Development Area of Lagos, Hon. Olorunfemi Okeowo, on how to collaborate to tackle this problem.

On funding of the scheme, efforts have been made to partner with a range from private individuals, philanthropists, corporate organizations, group of people, professional IA-Foundation Volunteers, etc. Its main aim is to educate as many children as possible through its campaign and inviting professional volunteers to be part of the millennium goal of educating and getting rid of out-of-street children. .

All efforts are on deck to further raise huge sums of money to get the children back to school. The 4th Annual Charity Event 2023 of the Foundation is slated for the 18th March, 2023. The theme for the year is: ‘SECURING THE FUTURE” and also featuring at the event are Awards, Raffles, Speeches, American Auctions, Music, Dance, etc.

It is envisaged that all will be achieved in five years’ time. I pray that this dream will be actualized by the Foundation.

Mrs. Modupe Macaulay Educationist/Child Mentor/ Career Counsellor/

IA-Foundation Volunteer