The Federal Government in partnership with the European Union (EU) has introduced an Accelerated Basic Education Programme to enable disadvantaged children of between 10 and 18 years have access to basic education.
The Executive Secretary, Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council (NERDC), Prof. Ismail Junaidu presented the pogramme to the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu in Abuja on Thursday.
Junaidu said the programme which was being implemented by a project consortium including Plan International, Save the Children and Gender Equality, Peace and Development Center was to reduce to the barest minimum the number of out-of- school children in Nigeria.
The target group for the programme are those who never started schooling and are over-aged to start from the foundation. The programme is flexible and free for enrolment designed to provide the recipients with equivalent, certified competences for basic education using effective teaching and learning approaches.
The NERDC boss said that the learning approaches would match their cognitive maturity.
He added that it would also provide pathways to mainstreaming learners into relevant levels of schooling based on proper profiling and effective instruction and learning.
Piloting of the programme had begun immediately in 54 centres in Borno with over 8,000 learners enrolled, Junaidu said.
“Preliminary result from the piloting shows that the programme is indeed a way out from the menace of out-of-school children and youth in Nigeria,’’ he said.
Also, the Interim Country Director, Plan International Nigeria, Mr Robert Komakech, said the goal of the EU was to increase access to safe, quality and inclusive education opportunities both formal and non-formal for conflict affected children, adolescents and youth.
Komakech said that this would address the specific barriers of girls and boys with a view to improving retention and completion to achieve better learning outcomes.
He said that the Plan International-led consortium signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)for the development of a National Curriculum to cater for the educational needs of learners that had dropped out of school for one reason or the other.
The Minister of Education, represented by the Permanent Secretary, Mr Sonny Echono, said that all stakeholders would be carried along to ensure successful implementation of the Accelerated Basic Education Programme.
Adamu assured the country of the need to pursue the programme vigorously to achieve a 90 per cent literacy rate.
He added that the ministry would also support the national rollout plan of the programme throughout the institutions of learning in the country.
Hamid Bobboyi, executive secretary, Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), noted that the number of out-of-school children, which is currently 10.1 million, is expected to shoot up following abductions of students and the spate of insurgency. He noted that 75 percent of out-of-school persons reside in the North.
He expressed optimism that the project will tackle the menace.
“We lose our children principally when they transit from primary school to junior school. By the time they reach JSS 1, about 45 percent drop out and we have to address this,” he said.
The programme is funded by the European Union (EU) and its implementation is in partnership with Plan International under the EU-Borno project and other development partners.