The Federal Government has reiterated its commitment towards providing quality and equitable access to basic education through effective collaboration with state governments and other stakeholders.
Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed, who said this added that government was particularly concerned about the high number of out-of-school children, especially girls mostly affected by cultural and other inhibitions in the northern part of the country.
He spoke at a two-day media dialogue on Girls For Girls (G4G) initiative, organised by United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture in Gusau, Zamfara State.
The G4G initiative is funded by the United Kingdom Agency for International Development (UKaid) and is implemented by UNICEF in three states of Bauchi, Katsina and Zamfara, to encourage enrolment, retention and transition from primary to secondary education.
According to a report by UNICEF, the vast majority of out-of-school children are located in northern Nigeria.
To increase school enrolment and attendance for boys and girls, as well as enhance the socio-economic wellbeing of beneficiary households, UNICEF started implementing Cash Transfer Programme in Niger and Sokoto states and later Kebbi and Zamfara states from September 2016 to June 2023.
However, the Girls For Girls initiative, which flowed from the success of the cash transfer programme was designed to encourage girls not only to enroll in schools but to equip them with vocational skills like beads and soap making, as well as social and health issues, among others.
Mothers associations are established in each school and are working with the non-governmental organisations, in collaboration with the school management boards of each beneficiary school, to deliver on the project.
The minister, who was represented at the event by the Principal Information Officer, Child Rights Information Bureau (CRIB), Mr Zira Nagga, said girls commended the UNICEF and other stakeholders for their collaborative efforts in ensuring that basic education is brought to the girl-child in northern Nigeria.
Over 15,000 girls are enrolled on the G4G programme in three states of Zamfara, Bauchi and Katsina.
The minister noted that the Girl For Girl initiative, a component of the UNICEF girls’ Education Project, phase 3, being implemented in northern Nigeria, has helped to improve the enrollment, retention and learning achievement in schools.
The Secretary-General of High Level Women Advocates (HiLWA), Mrs Halima Ibrahim Maigari, in her presentation of the implementation of Girls For Girls programme in Bauchi State, said a total 249 pupils, 147 girls and 102 boys, were enrolled and re-enrolled in Gandu, Danore, Zaranda, Ribina, Nabordo primary schools of Toro Local Government Area of the state.
She added that as a result of G4G training, there is increase in school attendance, particularly for girls; reduction in hawking rate, especially during school hours; and improvement in personal hygiene of the girls.
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