Abuja — The World Bank has approved the sum of $611 million to support Nigeria in addressing the menace of out-of-school children, which recent statistics put at over 10.5 million across the nation.
This came as the federal government yesterday flagged off the 2017/20198 Annual School Census exercise across the 36 states of the federation and Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
The Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, who kicked off the enumeration exercise in Abuja, stressed the imperative of data in planning for delivery of quality and all-inclusive education in the country.
Adamu explained that there would be simultaneous commencement of enumeration of all schools, pupils, teachers and facilities in the basic and post-basic school levels in 36 states and FCT.
He added that the census would provide reliable data that would lead to proper planning, management and administration of education in Nigeria.
Adamu announced at the event that federal government has commenced geo-positioning of schools, saying this would help in getting the exact and accurate number of schools and validating the annual census school data collection.
He lamented that some state governments, agencies of government and private schools had failed to comply effectively with the enumeration exercise in the previous years, appealing to them to diligently adhere to the guidelines so as to get the data right.
He also disclosed that the federal government would soon put the operational plan of the new Ministerial Strategic Plan for the development of education into action, which the minister said requires accurate and reliable data to implement.
"I will also urge for cooperation and full participation of the military, para-military and private schools, both registered and unregistered, almajiri centres, and integrated Koranic schools in this exercise so that we can explore and improve all school environments in order to begin to solve the problem of out-of-school children, " he said.
Meanwhile, the World Bank Education Specialist and Consultant, Mr. Adebayo Solomon, speaking at the flag-off ceremony, disclosed that the bank approved the sum of $611 million to support Nigeria in tackling the menace of out-of-school children.
He said the gesture was to support the federal and state authorities in their efforts to foster inclusion and revive growth, in alignment with the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) of the federal government.
He said the 611 million dollars to Better Education Service Delivery for All (BESDA) Programme was aimed at bringing out-of-school children into the classroom, improve literacy, and strengthen accountability for results in basic education.
Solomon said the fund was also designed to support both the Federal and state governments in generating credible and reliable data in the education sector.
He noted that many states were not able to conduct annual school census because they did not prioritise it, saying with the project the World Bank is doing with the Ministry of Education, there is now money available for each of the state to be able to do it.
"He said the money is available to the level at which data are collected first of all by the states themselves. They have to spend their money and after they have spent their money somebody will now verify.
"We are working with the National Bureau of Statistics to ensure that the data are verified. Immediately they are verified, each school will collect 30 dollars. And each state government will collect $100,000.
"The more you continue to publish the data and it is becoming accurate, there is a bonus that is given to you. There should not be challenge in respect of collecting the data. State need to be on top of it and proactive," he said.