Nigeria: Children’s Day – Despite Prolonged Universities’ Closure, Buhari Says Education Is Priority

The United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) currently puts the number of out-of-school children in Nigeria at 18.5 million.

Despite the continued closure of Nigerian public universities for more than three months over workers’ strikes, President Muhammadu Buhari has insisted that his administration is committed to ensuring access to education for every child.

Nigeria’s university-based unions including the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), the Non-Academic Union of Allied and Educational Institutions (NASU) and the National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT) have downed tools for months, crippling activities on the nation’s tertiary institutions.

They are demanding better funding for the university system and welfare for their members.

Children’s Day statement

In a statement to commemorate this year’s International Children’s Day, marked on May 27 every year, Mr Buhari said the education of the Nigerian child will remain on the front burner for his government.

The president said he is committed to education and will continue to work hard to ensure that every child has access to education, “which prepares them for a bright future.”

“Other issues – healthcare, protection from harm, drugs, cultism, child trafficking and abuse, domestic violence- are equally receiving needed attention from the government,” he said in a statement by Femi Adesina, his special adviser on media and publicity.

The statement noted that the president recognised the place of education in the development of every country.

It said Mr Buhari’s government is committed to seeing a further significant reduction in the number of out-of-school children.

The United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) currently puts the number of out-of-school children in Nigeria at 18.5 million.

Chief of UNICEF Field Office in Kano, Rahama Farah, at a training with journalists in the city, said bandits’ attacks in the North-west states have also compounded the situation.

The statement also quoted Mr Buhari to have said that Nigerian children deserve the best and a safe country where they can grow, make friends, interact and travel freely, and emerge as successful leaders in different fields of endeavour.

“With our investments in infrastructure, youth development, education, Information and Communication Technology, Digital Economy, Culture, Arts and Entertainment in the last seven years, I believe we are laying a solid foundation for a better quality of life for future generations in the country,” he said.

Qosim Suleiman is a reporter at PREMIUM TIMES in partnership with Report for the World, which matches local newsrooms with talented emerging journalists to report on under-covered issues around the globe.

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