The Federal Government today in Abuja constituted a 17-member committee for the integration of the out-of-school children from the South-South and South-East states, into the basic education system.

The Minister of State for Education, Chief Nyesom Wike at the inauguration of the National Implementation Committee on the Integration of Out-of-School Children, decried the low number of enrolment for boys in the South-South and South East states.

?“In spite of the collective efforts of governments at all levels we know that we are still far from our destination as far as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and Education For All (EFA) goals are concerned.

“We know that we have made tremendous improvement in access and national enrolment but millions of our children, particularly, boys in the South-South and South East states of our country are presently out of formal school system.

“Even the ones that are in school are faced with limited opportunities and environmental pressures that may prevent them from going beyond primary education or develop the relevant skills for gainful employment.

“As some people have rightly noted, this situation is not only a calamity for the boys that are affected, it is a serious disaster for national development as the costs of wasted talents are beyond what we can measure.

The Minister said President Goodluck Jonathan has approved the building of special basic education schools with admixture of vocational studies in these states to cater for their peculiar educational needs and occupational development, adding that the initiative by President Jonathan was to provide an inclusive educational system that ensures that these children are given opportunities to acquire basic education.

According to him, children would simultaneously acquire the functional skills and knowledge that they needed to participate in the development of this country as an active productive workforce and entrepreneurs. “Thus, these special schools are expected to mop up these children from the streets and expose them to basic education. It will also instil a sense of lifelong learning, build their confidence, support their wellbeing and equip them with appropriate skills for life,?? he said.

The Minister, however, charged the committee to draw up and supervise the implementation of a comprehensive action plan for the integration of out-of school children in the South-South and South-East states.

He also charged them to monitor the construction, equipping and hand-over to states and to ensure the effective running of the special basic education and vocational schools to cater for skills requirement of out-of-school children. He said the committee should ensure that every out-of school child in the target states has access to basic education in collaboration with relevant stakeholders which include state and local governments.

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