Peter Hawkins, the United Nations Children Fund’s (UNICEF) representative in Kano State, says no fewer than one million children are out of school in the state.
Hawkins said this on Monday in Kano during a four-day workshop organised for Commissioners and Permanent Secretaries from the 19 Northern States.
The workshop was organised by the Federal Ministry of Budget and National Planning, in collaboration with Kano State Government and UNICEF.
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the advocacy workshop is on ensuring sustainability of results for children through social policy.
Hawkins said the figure of the out of school children, which comprised formal and informal, was obtained from the Federal Ministry of Education.
He noted that Nigeria needed to redouble efforts in addressing the critical issue of out of school children and in improving investment in the education sector.
“Investing in children is like investing in the future and also the economic development of the country. Therefore, there is a need for every child to have access to education,“ he said.
Hawkins explained that “The results achieved in a country as complex, dynamic and diverse as Nigeria can impact not only on the West Africa region but the entire African continent.
“This is why collectively we strive to improve the situation of children who are the powerhouse and future of this country.
“The most recent official figure (in 2010) from the National Bureau of Statistics, indicates that Nigeria’s national income poverty rate as 62.6 per cent with 63.8 percent of it, constituting the rural poor”.
He, therefore, said the meeting was to concretize a strategic approach with the northern states governments for advancing social inclusion especially child rights in Nigeria.
In his remarks, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Budget and National Planning, Mr Ernest Umakhihe, said the meeting was apt as policymakers and technocrats needed to review and take stock of their performances in the last four years and make projections for the next four years.
Umakhihe, represented by the Director, Social Development in the ministry, Alhaji Abdulkadir Saadu said that the last four years had been spent on experimentation of new ways of governance.
He said that the next four years would be a time to consolidate on best practices and ensure positive change that would bring about growth and development.
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According to him, “it is in the public domain that Northern states of Nigeria bears the burden of the country’s poor social indicators.
“Therefore, if Nigeria must improve the human development index and move to become one of the biggest economies, the challenges facing Northern Nigeria must be addressed.”
Earlier in his welcome address, the Kano State Deputy Governor, Dr Nasir Gawuna, said the workshop was designed to increase knowledge on all key Social Policy Pillars, to provide information and share experience on on-going and planned activities.
According to him, the meeting will also support in mapping Social Policy Interventions in each State of the Federation.
He added that the opportunity would also be explored to mainstream policy and programmatic interventions that was sustainable and related to achieving key results for Children and Vulnerable population.
He said that, “I would like to inform you that Kano State Government have targeted numerous Social Policy Programmes since it came into power from 2015 to date.
“The policies are aimed at improving and enhancing access to basic social services intended to benefit vulnerable groups, rural dwellers, youth and women, persons with disabilities, orphans, disaster victims and other less privileged groups across the state,” he said. (NAN)