From Fred Ezeh
In bid to tackle the menace of out of school children in Nigeria, particularly in Katsina State, the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) has encouraged parents and caregivers in Katsina State to enroll their children in schools and get financial rewards.
UNICEF confirmed that there are 536,132 out of school children in Katsina State, and that a total of ₦332,832,000 will be disbursed to 20,802 out-of-school children (OOSC) and Almajiris in three LGAs of Kafur, Mani and Safana through 10,557 female parents/caregivers to increase school enrolment and attendance rates for boys and girls.
The UN Children Agency further explained that each female parent/caregiver will receive N8,000 per tranche twice in 2022, amounting to N16,000 per beneficiary.
Its representative in Nigeria, Peter Hawkins, announced the package at the launch of a cash transfer programme which will provide learning opportunities for over 20,000 out-of-school children in Katsina state and improve the socio-economic wellbeing of beneficiaries and their households.
He explained that the programme will ensure that beneficiaries are enrolled and retained in any form of organized school, including Integrated Qur’anic Schools (IQS) and provided with literacy and numeracy skills linked to employability and livelihood schemes.
He added that the cash transfer programme was being delivered together with the birth registration programme which has, so far, seen the registration of 20,400 children, adding that social workers would also be equipped with required skills to track and reunify children living on the street or similar situations with their families, thereby ensuring family-based care for children.
“Already, 50 Mallams of Tsangaya schools in three LGAs have been trained on safeguarding and keeping children safe from violence and abuse in their facilities. We are thankful to our partners, the Educate A Child Project, for funds for the cash transfer programme in Katsina State.
“The take-off of the programme will expectedly, provides the opportunity to take children off the streets back to the classrooms where every school age child should be. We urge the government to continue to build on these interventions to ensure that every school age child is in school and learning.”
“With this programme, we will be addressing the important issues of not just access to education, but quality of learning as we focus on literacy and numeracy skills to build the foundation for employability and livelihood skills,” said Hawkins.
Katsina State governor, Aminu Bello Masari, in his remarks, registered optimism that the partnership between Katsina State Government and UNICEF would yield many positive results, not just in the education sector, but in other sectors of the state economy.
He was grateful to UNICEF and the Educate A Child (EAC) project for the funds, assuring them that the programme implementation unit for the cash transfer programme will monitor the programme closely and ensure that the beneficiaries make judicious use of the resources.