The Nigerian government on Thursday said the country currently has more than 10 million out-of-school children, the highest in sub-Saharan Africa.

Minister of State for Education Chukuemeka Nwajiuba described the current situation affecting the educational system in the country as one that has “left much to be desired”.

“With an estimated 10,193,918 children out-of-school, Nigeria has the highest number of out-of-school children in sub-Saharan Africa.

For us to address these challenges adequately, therefore, we must strengthen the quality of basic education in Nigeria by confronting head-on those factors that deny our children access to basic education,” Nwajiuba said at the launch of the Better Education Service Delivery For All (BESDA), a scheme aimed at attracting children to schools in the country.

The program is also aimed at increasing equitable access for out-of-school children, improve literacy and strengthen accountability for results at the basic education level across the country.

This BESDA program has been launched in 17 states across Nigeria, with the selection of states based on the prevalence of the number of out-of-school children in the country, the minister said.

“You will agree with me that there is nothing to cheer about if a single child is out of school, instead of being in the classroom learning,” Nwajiuba noted.

He said it is in that regard that the federal government has been ensuring that the out-of-school children are back to school and learning.

“Learning is not only a moral and legal obligation but also a productive investment that will guarantee the future of our children and ensure that their rights are protected as enshrined in the Child’s Right Act of 2003,” he added.

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