By Peace Akinwale

Nigeria is a country with the world’s largest illiterates, with over 10 million children out of school. According to UNICEF, Nigeria has the highest number of illiterate children globally.

The estimated out-of-school children in Nigeria account for 30% of the world’s total number of out-of-school children. The situation is worse in rural areas, where many families cannot afford to send their kids to school. This has led to an increase in child labor and child trafficking.

In addition, according to UNICEF, “Nigeria has a major problem with early marriages. Girls from poor households frequently marry as young as 13 or 14 years old.” This leads to a growing disinterest by their spouses and extended family as they grow older, depriving them of a sound education. Many parents marry their daughters off to lessen their financial burden, leading to different estimates of teenage wives. A 20200 UN Development Program noted that 43 percent of aged 20 to 24 women had been married by 18.

There are about 22 million child brides in Nigeria, UNICEF says.

The depressing quality of education

Source: The Guardian

The quality of education in Nigeria is poor, and this is a result of poor funding for public schools and the fact that most teachers are not well trained. For example, many schools lack infrastructures like adequate toilets, desks, and textbooks. There are few qualified teachers because the government has failed to fund teacher training institutes. The Academic Staff Union of Universities in Nigeria has embarked on a prolonged strike.

Many parents cannot afford school fees. The national minimum wage is #30,000, an equivalent to $77. An individual needs #43,200 per month to survive, and it doubles in excess for individuals with kids or a large family. Those who can send their children to private tutors do so, although it is sometimes inefficient as the quality differs. Some of these private tutors may also lack quality education which may be helpful for these children’s academic growth and development.

Out of school

Out-of-school children. Source: The Nation Online

According to the latest census data, about 19 million children of school-going age in Nigeria. This figure is expected to rise as more children are born every year. Nigeria is ranked among the most dangerous place for children. The out-of-school population is the highest in Nigeria, equivalent to half of Norway’s population.

Many of the outs of school children in Nigeria are out of school for several reasons, including:

Many of these children live in rural areas and work on farms or in markets

Child labor – Source: The Guardian

Many children work on farms or in markets to help their families earn more income in Nigeria. These children are known as “child laborers,” They do not go to school.

Many have been trafficked by people who force them to work without pay. The older ones may even be sent away from home by their parents because they cannot afford to care for them any longer or because the children themselves want to get a job to earn money for their families.

The sad reality is that many street kids do not attend school because they can’t afford it or their parents won’t allow them to. They are considered a burden on society, and they are often forced into child labor instead of getting an education.

These children suffer from malnutrition, exposure to disease and infections, exploitation, and abuse by adults who have control over them (often relatives) and ultimately become involved in crime and drug use. Without proper guidance or support from society, these children will likely end up being an even bigger problem for everyone else if things aren’t addressed now.

These kids make up a large part of a population that will remain illiterate unless something is done immediately to salvage the situation. This urgent change includes improving our primary school system and creating opportunities for adults who could not complete basic education through community-based initiatives like adult literacy programs. With the rising number of out-of-school children, the rate of illiterate children will skyrocket, and both the government and the public will be responsible for this.

The government will be responsible because they do not provide the necessary resources to fund and maintain quality education. The public, because we do not make it a priority to take responsibility for a situation that affects us all, a situation that will later hunt us all.

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