UNICEF targets 41,391 school enrolments in Zamfara, Kebbi
The United Nations International Children Fund, UNICEF, is targeting 41,391 enrolment of boys and girls in basic schools in Zamfara and Kebbi states, under its Educate A Child, EAC, cash transfer programme co-funded by Qatar Foundation.
UNICEF Education Specialist in Nigeria, Azuka Menkiti, who disclosed this in Sokoto at an Interactive Media Dialogue, said the four-year EAC project is part of efforts to reduce the out-of-school children population in the country.
Menkiti said the overall goal of EAC is to expand access to quality basic education for 501,749 out-of-school children by 2020 in Katsina, Kebbi, Sokoto and Zamfara states.
She disclosed that Zamfara and Kebbi states are currently enjoying full implementation of the four-year project which targets 31,044 beneficiaries in Kebbi State and 10,347 beneficiaries in Zamfara State.
“In Kebbi State, in the first year the programme runs in the local government areas (LGAs) of Danko-Wasagu, Suru and Maiyama and will be expanded to Argungu, Bagudo, Dandi, Gwandu, Koko-Besse and Shanga LGAs in the following years.
“The programme is specifically designed to address the poverty-related reasons preventing children to enroll and stay in school giving families an opportunity to cover direct and opportunity costs related to their children’s - especially girls’ – education,” she said.
Under the EAC cash transfer programme, female caregivers of children within the age of 6 to 11 are supported with N8,000 per transfer, three times a year before the start of each school term for two years.
Speaking on the success of the UNICEF unconditional cash transfer programme in Niger and Sokoto states, Menkiti said the CTP removed financial barriers to girls’ enrolment and attendance at school in Niger and Sokoto States.
“68.9 per cent and 60.7 per cent of caregivers interviewed in Niger and Sokoto States respectively stated that the CTP has to a very large extent helped in removing financial barriers to girls’ enrolment and attendance at school.
“In Niger State, girls’ enrolment increased by 35.5 per cent in the GEP3-CTP schools after the programme implementation, while there was an increase of 9.5 per cent in girls’ enrolment in the non-CTP schools.
“In Sokoto State, girls’ enrolment increased by 65.5 per cent in the GEP3-CTP schools after the programme implementation, while there was an increase of 6.3 per cent in girls’ enrolment in the non-CTP schools,” she said.
Menkiti however noted that while cash on its own removes financial barriers to children’s schooling, it may not singlehandedly be sufficient to incentivize all caregivers to send their children to school.
She stressed the need for sensitization campaign, as a key element of the programme, targeted at religious leaders, community leaders and parents on the benefits of educating children, particularly girls.