For a nation so blessed with abundant resources but plundered by a few for a few, the growth and development indices relating to Nigeria’s future workforce tend to be sliding and worrisome.
From empirical data, UNICEF averred that one in every five of the world’s out-of-school children is a Nigerian. This reflects that about 10.5 million children between ages 5-14 in Nigeria, are out of school (www.unicef.org/nigeria/education.)
Many of these children sleep out in the cold and take everyday lessons from the street Capos or the Dons. For these children, all they know is the survival of the fittest approach to life. Due to no fault of theirs, they become drug addicts and criminals. There is no way these kids can thank the country that made them beggars and homeless.
Besides, these children cannot cultivate empathy for anybody. Life to them is cheap. The ideal to them is what street life represents. Perhaps this is one reason why it is easy to recruit them as foot soldiers by terrorists and criminal gangs. When these children become adults, there is no way they will not turn their guns on society. These are our future workforce wasting away, and I thought this should worry us as a people.
In addressing this issue, leaders (political office holders, Kings, Clerics, and community leaders) should build synergy in all the geo-political zones and seek ways of enforcing the provisions of the Child Right Act, Section 18 (3) of our constitution, and the Free Universal Basic Education Act, which make it compulsory for every child in Nigeria to acquire mandatory, accessible, and universal primary education at least to the junior secondary school level.
Parents must be reminded that they owe their children primary responsibilities and duty of care. It is a sin to bring children into this world and abandon them to the hands of street capos and bosses.
As we get into the Presidential election fever mode, I pray the winner will take steps to address the issue of out-of-school children. If we must be great, our children must be greater
Grace and peace!!!