90,000 out-of-school children in Anambra worrisome, researcher says

Parents claim they still pay school fees, especially at secondary school level, in spite of the free education policy in the state.

Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra state

Dr Ben Nwosu, Senior Research Fellow, Institute for Development Studies, University of Nigeria, Enugu, on Wednesday decried the 90, 000 out-of-school children in Anambra State, describing the situation as worrisome.

Nwosu said this at a project close-out and unveiling of Data Management System, organised by the Evidence and Collaboration for Inclusive Development (ECID), in partnership with Christian Aid, in Awka.

He said that the data was originated from a research tagged: “Access improvement to basic service delivery through voice for the most marginalised groups in Anambra and Kaduna states”.

According to him, some of the reasons for the statistics were lack of infrastructure, lack of teachers and parents claimed they still pay school fees, especially at secondary school level, in spite of the free education policy.

“It is quite worrying that 90,000 children are out of school. Based on official statistics, Anambra is one of the educationally advantaged states in the country.

” It is more worrying when you go into the field and see the wide data gap of out-of-school children existing between the rural and urban locations.

“Maybe what exists in more developed parts of the state swallows those of the rural areas where you see dilapidated infrastructure, with pupils running around due to absence of teachers,” he said.

Nwosu urged the government to work hard to ensure that school-aged children were fully enrolled in schools.

He also urged the state government to emulate the Kaduna state model of School Census, which involved finding out existing infrastructure, manpower and general data in the education sector to aid subsequent interventions, planning and budgeting.

Also speaking, Mr Mark Okoye, Anambra State Commissioner for Economic Planning and Budget, described data collation as a global challenge, particularly in view of its financial implications.

Okoye noted that the research findings would assist the state executive in policy formulation, budgeting and planning, promising to engage with relevant state ministries, departments and agencies to address the issues in the education sector.

Earlier, Mrs Onyeka Okey-Udegbunam, Executive Director, Hope Givers Initiative, said the research would go a long way in empowering relevant stakeholders with adequate data and evidence.

She said it would also help in engaging government meaningfully so that it rises to its responsibilities to the people.

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