ENUGU, Nigeria (VOICE OF NAIJA)- The Bayelsa State Governor, Douye Diri, lamented over the estimated figure of 250,000 out-of-school children in the state was alarming.
Diri spoke on Tuesday during the launch of a national campaign on out-of-school children organised by the Federal Ministry of Education in Yenagoa.
The Governor called on parents, traditional rulers, and community leaders to join hands with the government to ensure a reversal of the situation.
In a statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Daniel Alabrah, Diri noted that the state government had continued to support free primary and secondary education in the state with the purchase of uniforms and other instructional materials.
Lamenting the number of out-of-school children in the state despite an existing law to check the menace, he called on the relevant ministries to ensure that the law was publicized and implemented in the letter.
He also urged the state House of Assembly to oversee its laws to ensure they were implemented.
Diri commended the Federal Ministry of Education for bringing the campaign to Bayelsa, saying the people of the state and the Niger Delta region would benefit from the initiative.
He said: “A law was passed by the Bayelsa State House of Assembly on this matter in 2018. So, Mr Minister, Bayelsa State had started addressing the issues long before now. But your coming is key as it has opened our eyes to the level of out-of-school children in our state.
“The issue is mostly about implementation. We have the laws to ensure that our children are educated. This law has to be implemented across all our communities. The Ministries of Information and Education must do all within their powers to ensure that the public is aware of this law and that it is implemented.
“Let me take this opportunity to encourage parents to take advantage of the government’s provisions. There is free primary education. Uniforms and other instructional materials are being provided by the government. So, why won’t parents send their children to school?
“As a state, we will continue to prioritise education and have a paradigm shift that will go beyond certificates. We have introduced technical education, and by our third anniversary, we will commission some of the schools.”
Speaking earlier, when he received the Minister in his office, Governor Diri called on the Federal Government of Nigeria to establish more tertiary institutions in the state to enhance and expand the frontiers of education.
Also, he urged the Federal Government of Nigeria to release its share of educational counterpart funds to the state.
“As we speak, Bayelsa has completed its counterpart funding up until 2022, and now we are eagerly awaiting the federal government’s counterpart funding for 2022.
“Help us prevail on the Universal Basic Education Commission to fast-track its contribution to the fund to ensure that our educational requirements are met. As we speak now, we are even prepared for our counterpart funding for 2023,” Diri said.
In his remarks, the Minister of State for Education, Goodluck Nanah-Opiah, said education was a collective responsibility.
Nanah-Opiah called on all stakeholders to join forces to eradicate the challenges of out-of-school children in the interest of the country.
He said the Federal Ministry of Education had put in place mechanisms to ensure that education was accessible to children of school age and appealed to the state government to continue to prioritize education.