Former Vice President and founder of American University of Nigeria Yola, Atiku Abubakar, has made a passionate plea to Nigerians of means to support charity and humanitarian causes that will help in giving formal education to children who are out of school in the country.
Atiku Abubakar in a press statement released by his media office in Abuja on Friday expressed concern at the depressing statistics of Nigeria currently having the highest number of out-of-school children globally.
The former Vice President noted that given the dire situation in education, the most critical tool for transforming individuals and spurring growth and development calls for a state of emergency in the education sector.
Noting that government cannot shoulder the responsibility alone, the Waziri Adamawa said that the situation requires Nigerians with means to support education charity initiatives such as the Feed and Read initiative of the American University of Nigeria (AUN).
According to the former Vice President, the Feed and Read Programme initiated in 2015 is designed to provide a decent meal per day for the most vulnerable of children in Yola, Adamawa State and at the same time give them exposure to classroom experience where they are taught Basic English, Arithmetic and Hygiene.
The statement observed that the Feed and Read programme was a response to the effect of destruction and displacement caused by the Boko Haram menace in the North-East area of the country which further escalated a surge in the number of out-of-school children in the zone.
"I have always been bothered about the parlous state of education in the North.
When I was Vice President I called a conference of all the 19 state governors in the North to discuss how we could address the problem of lack of adequate access to formal education by a teeming number of the young population in the region.
"Bad as the situation was, the Boko Haram destruction tore apart the little that was left of the infrastructure for formal education especially in the North-East.
The dire situation caused the AUN to champion the Read and Feed initiative which has received tremendous support from the Irish government and the Atiku Abubakar Center for Leadership, Entrepreneurship and Development.
"I personally had to intervene by giving encouragement to this initiative, ensuring that the meals meet with the standard of a balanced diet for school children.
I eat food with these children to show that the food is safe and to lure more of them into the programme. I do this every time I visit the school.
"I am happy when I see these children return a formal greeting in English language and when they solve simple arithmetic.
There remains a large swath of distance to be covered. Nothing is too much to give in providing formal education to all children who are yet to be captured by the education infrastructure that the government is trying assiduously to create.
"That is why I implore more Nigerians who can afford it, to stretch a helping hand to these children. Any amount, no matter how little, will go a long way in making a difference in providing good education for the most vulnerable children not only in the North-East but in other places in the country."