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More than 11 million children are out of school: Child hawkers speak on why they’re not in school

Statistically, no fewer than 11 million Nigerian children are out of school. According to the UNICEF, over the last decade, Nigeria’s exponential growth in population has put immense pressure on the country’s resources and on already overstretched public service and infrastructure. With children under 15 accounting for about 45 per cent of the country’s population, the burden on education and other sectors has become overwhelming. As the situation is being addressed by current effort of the Nigerian government with the implementation of the Basic Education Scheme. The compulsory, free Universal Basic Education (UBE) Act was passed into law in 2004 and the situation represents the government’s strategy to fight illiteracy and extend basic education opportunities to all children in the country.
However, some parents are not helping matters as they are the reason why majority of children are deprived access to education. During school hours, they prefer sending their children to go hawking while some are being molested and abused in the process with the silly excuses of not having money to sponsor or send their children to school. Left with no option, some of these children are compelled to adhere to the instructions given to them by their parents or guidance whether good or bad as the case maybe.
To our greatest surprise, countless number of children were seen on the highway and on the streets hawking during school hours. ENCOMIUM Weekly spoke to some of them on why they are out of school….

I am a primary five pupil. Last week, I misplaced my aunty’s N2,000 and she asked me to stay at home this week and hawk for her missing money.

I stopped going to school after my primary education because my mother said she does not have money to allow me go to secondary school. I finished my primary school last year (2016).

I am staying with my mother’s sister, I go to afternoon school. I only come to this place to sell at this time. By 2 o’clock, I go to my school.

My father is dead and my mother said she cannot pay our school fees. We are four children, I and my brother and my two sisters, we are selling groundnuts and pure water. I just pray the governor should help my mother, please.

I am selling pure water for my grandmother, that is why I am not in school. She does not have money to send me to school.

My mother and father died last year, so I am staying with my uncle. All his children are in school now but my aunty asked me to go and sell this fufu on my head.

I stopped going to school when I was in primary three. My aunty took me from the village and she promised my mother that she will send me to school. When I asked her in January this year, she said she will put me in school by September.

My mother sent me to sell buns so that she will have more money to send me to school. That is why I am out of school, but my three younger ones are in school already.

Parents lament rise in child hawkers :

It’s a pity these children are faced with such circumstance, but I will still blame their parents. They can still allow them to go to some of these public schools with Universal Basic Education. They’re free and they can hawk for them after school. Some parents are just so selfish and illiterate.

I cannot say I am financially bouyant enough to sponsor all my children to the highest level of education but the point here is that, we should do our best and leave the rest. I feel bad anytime I see these children running after cars on the highway just to sell during school hours. I feel pained to ask myself, where are their parents?

I don’t really have much to say, but I cannot necessarily blame their parents. Government should set up enlightenment programmes that could help educate parents on the need for them to send their children to school on time. Everything is not all about money, there are more to it than meet the eyes.

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