‘Dearth of quality, free basic education impeding Kaduna’s growth’
Kaduna State government has blamed its slow growth on the absence of quality and free basic education in the state, just as it says it is taking steps to make amends.
Governor of the state, Nasir El-Rufai, who spoke while declaring open a seminar organised by the United Nations Population Funds (UNFPA) on girl-child education in the state, said no stone would be left unturned in efforts geared towards retrieving lost grounds, adding that government’s efforts along this line have been bold and visible.
According to El-Rufai, “The Kaduna State government has identified the dearth of quality and free basic education as an impediment to its continued growth and has demonstrated a commitment to addressing this.
“We have adopted a few measures, which include the provision of bursaries and scholarships, a free 9-year education policy, which covers tuition, uniform and all associated costs from Primary One to Junior Secondary Three. This is in addition to our school feeding programme that ensures that nearly 1.8 million pupils gets at least one meal a day in our schools,” he added.
The governor continued, “In spite of these measures, we know that there is still much to be done. We must support policies that address retention in secondary schools to the extent that the large dropout rates and high levels of illiteracy are reduced drastically. This is why we seek to expand our education policy to include senior secondary schools, and as soon as we can marginally increase our internally generated revenues, we will ensure that education is free and compulsory at the primary and secondary levels.”
He added that “the large number of school-aged children currently engaged in street hawking or begging and other inhumane practices is appalling at best, and we are taking measures to arrest this. We have enacted the Street Begging and Hawking (Prohibition) Law that will come into effect next month to ensure that every child above the age of 6 in Kaduna goes to school.”
El-Rufai, who promised that the state’s proposed Child Rights Bill, will further protect children and their interests, as well as guarantee their right to qualitative, free and safe education,” added that, “all these concerted efforts demonstrate our dedication to the promotion of education. We are convinced that education will not only empower our people and make them more valuable citizens, but also help them make informed choices in life.
The UNFPA in a statement stated that, “Providing women and girls with equal access to education, is not only a fundamental human right, but a necessary foundation for a prosperous and sustainable world,” pointing out that “as girls move into adolescence, gender disparities widen.
“In Nigeria, this is seen in the number of out-of-school girls and the percentage increase of child marriage in northern Nigeria. When girls are out-of-school, we disenfranchise them of the skills needed to contribute meaningfully in the labour market.”
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