By Erdoo Sar
The second phase of the Back-To-School Campaign has been flagged-off in Logo and Katsina-Ala Local Government Areas of Benue State by the United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, Global Partnership for Education, GPE, and the Federal Ministry of Education, FME, for Out-Of-School Children, OOSC.
Delivering a keynote address at the event which was held at Katsina-Ala, Commissioner of Education, Dr Saawuan Tarnongu, represented by UNICEF Assistant Desk Officer of the Ministry, Dr Clement Dyege, expressed gratitude to the development partners for the huge investment they have made in education in Benue State.
Dr Sarwuan, who performed the flag-off ceremony, charged all community stakeholders to ensure that the identified OOSC are returned to school in the next academic session.
The Commissioner further urged the Executive Chairman, State Universal Education Board (SUBEB), Comrade Joseph Utse, to ensure close monitoring of the pupils enrolled for retention, completion, and transition rates to be attained.
In a goodwill message, the SUBEB Executive Chairman, Comrade Joseph Utse, represented by the Director, Social Mobilization of the Board, Mr. Emmanuel Ejeh, described as alarming a report by UNICEF that Nigeria has a total number of 18.5 million OOSC.
He lamented that the group (OOSC) represents children who have been denied access to basic education opportunities, have dropped out of school, or have refused schooling.
Comrade Utse, who donated over five hundred (500) assorted textbooks and story books to OOSC in Logo and Katsina-Ala, urged all stakeholders to join in the back to school campaign to change the narrative.
Earlier, in a welcome address, the chief host of the occasion, Mr. Jonathan Chagba, who is the Education Secretary of Katsina-Ala Local Government, averred that the panacea to the OOSC phenomenon must come from the stakeholders, who are the Chiefs, Mothers and community volunteers.
While soliciting the stakeholders’ sustained support, the Education Secretary disclosed that the second phase of the Back-To-School campaign in Logo and Katsina-Ala was possible because of the success recorded in the first phase of the programme.
Also speaking, Kindred Head, Mue Ter Ichongo 1 in Katsina-Ala, Zaki Tivlumun Ubugh, said his council had sensitized youths to shun social vices that could lead to high dropout rates in schools.
According to Zaki Ubugh, announcements were also made in worship centres for all children to be enrolled in school, having seen the need for education as he was also a student himself.
He identified some Tiv illustrious sons like Akirga Sai, who, through education, left remarkable footprints in the community.
Zaki Ubugh made it known that community stakeholders were trained prior to the inauguration of the programme to be able to identify and register the OOSC, from which 20 were selected for registration at the flag-off ceremony.
In her remarks, the leader of the mothers’ forum, Hajia Binta Hassan, who received training before the flag off, appreciated the development partners for coming to Katsina ala and Logo for the second phase and also gave the mothers a chance to participate fully in identifying the OOSC.
According to her, the forum looked forward to more partnerships from UNICEF, GPE, and other development partners.
The highlight of the occasion was the traditional dance performed by pupils of the host school, LGEA Central, Katsina-Ala, and the distribution of books to children.