Bashir Hassan Abubakar
The United Nations Children’s Fund Bauchi Field office has expressed it’s worry over the low transition rate of school children from primary to junior secondary school.
This concern was expressed by the Chief of Bauchi Field Office Mr. Tushar Rane at the opening ceremony of a three days children’s creative workshop for students, organised by the National Troupe of Nigeria (TNT) in Bauchi.
Mr. Rane said that as it is there are 3,183 primary schools, with only 753 Junior Secondary Schools and 191 Senior Secondary Schools in Bauchi State.
He said over 1.2M children enrolled in Primary out of which only 200 thousand transit to Junior Secondary Schools and 130 thousand to Senior Secondary Schools, which put the transition rate from primary to Junior Secondary School at only 18%.
“Every state should invest in young generation and ensure that every child is loved, cared for and protected. Achieving that means promoting quality call for action, investing in early year and adolescent programmes to harness qualitative efforts”, said Rane.
While appreciating Bauchi State Government in collaborating with NTN for organising the creative workshop at school level, he reminded guests that UNICEF work towards improving the lives of Children and Women in Nigeria and also committed to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Education for All (EFA) goals of educating all children at all levels and in all groups.
“UNICEF has a vision to collaborate with Government institutions, Civil Society Organisations, Faith Based Organisations, Communities and other Partners to discuss issues around children and Adolescent Education programmes; hence the “Children’s Creative Station” workshop organised by the National Troupe of Nigeria in collaboration with Bauchi State Government, the North-East Development Commission (NEDC) and UNICEF.
“The programme aims at equipping children with the rudiments of theatre for expression of prime national aspirations such as promotion of unity in diversity, patriotism, and rights of the child as fundamental Human Rights.
“It is a common knowledge that the Adolescence stage is a second window of opportunity in a child’s cognitive and growth development. Besides the physiological importance, adolescent development is also a human right as stated in the Convention on Rights of the Child and the general commitment to the implementation of the Convention on Rights of the Child during Adolescence”.
He stressed that strong evidence suggests that promoting adolescent development and their protection will lead to better short and long term public health, economic and demographic benefits.
Mr. Rane said that the school environment provides the most effective and efficient way to reach adolescents because it offers the opportunity to get students at an influential stage in their lives, during childhood and adolescence.
The Chief of Field office, who sounded optimistic, maintained that school-going adolescents can also be used to reach out-of-school adolescents and even become the role models for them.
“UNICEF is stepping up its engagement with rural young people, including adolescent girls. And thanks to the generosity of Bauchi State Government and other partners for the difference being made.
“We are committed to work with all the arms of the Federal Government of Nigeria, CSOs, development partners, private sectors, families and communities to increase support for the young children through the existing community systems, building on the positive practices that already exists.
“All our children across the country and in Bauchi State have a better start to life using evidence-based implementation strategy as a support for national priority achieving the SDGs for child survival, growth and development. It is morally right and economical to invest in adolescent programmes”, said the chief field officer.
While congratulating the schools selected for the training, Mr. Rane said that, “I hope you will be able to explore how to scale up what works and to learn from sharing experiences – the less successful as well as the good. And I hope that, at the end of this workshop, you will convey the case for rural adolescent children back to the schools and communities.
Mr. Rane concluded his address saying, “Life is not about us, but about children, so if we start wrong, we get it wrong, but if we start right, we get it right in every facet of the society”.