Addressing the Escalating Out-of-School Children Crisis in Northern Nigeria

Sultan of Sokoto Muhammad Sa'ad Abubakar III underlined that parents who fail to enroll their children in school ought to be held legally accountable.

The Minister of State for Education, Yusuf Sununu, has voiced concerns over the escalating number of out-of-school children, particularly in northern Nigeria, describing it as a ticking time bomb that demands urgent attention. Sununu addressed the issue during the 2023 Bauchi Education Summit held at Dr. Saad Abubakar Hajj Camp in Bauchi, focusing on the theme, ‘Nurturing a flourishing future: Improving access and quality education in Bauchi State.’

Minister of State for Education, Yusuf Sununu, labels the increasing number of out-of-school children in northern Nigeria a ticking time bomb
Sununu emphasizes the urgent need for concerted efforts to address and reverse the alarming trend of out-of-school children

During the 2023 Bauchi Education Summit, with the theme ‘Nurturing a flourishing future: Improving access and quality education in Bauchi State,’ Minister Sununu brought attention to the urgent need for strategies to tackle the out-of-school children crisis. The summit served as a platform to discuss viable solutions, engage stakeholders, and foster a collective commitment to transforming the education landscape in northern Nigeria.

The minister’s use of the term “ticking time bomb” is a poignant metaphor for the potential consequences of inaction. When children are denied access to education, the ripple effects are felt across various aspects of society. Lack of education limits opportunities, perpetuates cycles of poverty, and hampers the development of individuals and communities. Additionally, a large population of out-of-school children can fuel social unrest and economic stagnation, posing a threat to the stability and progress of the entire nation.

To effectively address the out-of-school children’s crisis, it is essential to understand its root causes. Factors such as poverty, cultural norms, inadequate infrastructure, and insecurity contribute to hindering access to education in northern Nigeria. By identifying and comprehensively addressing these underlying issues, policymakers can create sustainable solutions that go beyond short-term fixes.

Minister Sununu’s emphasis on the urgent need for concerted efforts highlights the necessity of a collaborative approach involving government bodies, non-governmental organizations, local communities, and international partners. Tackling the out-of-school children crisis requires multifaceted strategies that encompass policy reforms, community engagement, and targeted interventions to address specific challenges faced by different regions.

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) recently reported that one in three children in Nigeria is out of school, totaling 10.2 million at the primary level and 8.1 million at the junior secondary school (JSS) level.

Governor Uba Sani of Kaduna State, in a meeting in October, disclosed that the number of out-of-school children in his state alone was 680,000. Similarly, Governor Inuwa Yahaya of Gombe State stated in September that his state had over 500,000 out-of-school children in 2019, and the number had increased to over 600,000.

Addressing this critical issue, the Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III, emphasized in 2019 that parents who neglect to send their children to school should face legal consequences, asserting that Islam supports the education of the girl child.

Minister Sununu, echoing the sentiments expressed by other leaders, expressed deep concern over the rising figures of out-of-school children in Nigeria, especially in the North, deeming it not only unacceptable but also disheartening. He stressed the need for concerted efforts to address and reverse this alarming trend, highlighting the urgency of providing quality education for all children in the region.

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