A socio-political organisation, Akwa Ibom Liberation Movement (AILM), has faulted claims made by the Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, that Akwa Ibom State was second among States with the highest number of out-of- school children.

The group also picked holes in the report by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) rating the State as having the highest unemployment rate.

The group insisted that both the Minister’s statement and the NBS report did not reflect the reality on ground in the State.

Addressing newsmen in Uyo, the leader of AILM, Prince Emmanuel Sam, said Malam Adamu’s assertion was vague and misleading.

“The Minister’s claim was misleading. [He] failed to disclose the methodology used in the said audit and the indices which gave birth to the erroneous findings banied about in the report.”

In a statement, the group says the Minister’s claim was at variance with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)report of 2018 which noted the alarming rate of out-of-school children across the country with huge chunk of them in northern Nigeria.

The group cited the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics Multiple Indicators Cluster Survey of 2016/2017, where Akwa Ibom came last on the list of out -of- school children.

The statement said with the full complement of the Child’s Right Act and the free and compulsory education policy of the State government, there was noway Akwa Ibom could rank so high in the purported survey when enrollment in primary schools in the State has hit more than one million.

The group insisted that the out-of-school children roaming the streets of Akwa Ibom are the almajari children who go around begging with their mothers.

“The Akwa Ibom State child rights law empowers children with capacity to enjoy physical, social, and psychological well-being to the enforcement of physical, mental and emotional freedom from abuse. The law also compels parents to send their children to school once they reach school age.”

“Complementary to this, the State government declared a free and compulsory education policy which has caused student’s enrollment to soar to about one million in primary schools and more than 500,000 in secondary schools. To improve access to the free and compulsory education policy, the State government under Mr. Udom Emmanuel, has taken over about 20 community schools which were hitherto not captured under the programme. In the last four years, the administration has shown evidence of payment of at least N250million as WASSCE fees for Akwa Ibom children even when others States running similar programme could not pay during the recession.”

“In addition to these, different organs of government, NGOs, and individuals have over the years appreciated government’s efforts on the free and compulsory education programme by donating writing materials, uniforms and desks to students. This support has been a huge motivation to parents send their children to school.
Akwa Ibom State currently has at least 276 public secondary schools and about 350 primary schools well spread across communities, covered by the free and compulsory education programme. There is also a proliferation of private schools in the State. With all of these, how would parents allow their children to stay out of school?”

“More so, the Akwa Ibom State Ministry of Education has school monitoring and enforcement team in each senatorial district that reports directly to the governor. The team’s mandate is to monitor compliance of all stakeholders with the free and compulsory education programme and report same to the governor. There have been cases where children have been picked up on the streets during school hours and their parents arrested and tried for violation of the free and compulsory education policy.”

On the NBS report on unemployment in the State, the group admitted that there has been influx of job seekers to the State because of job opportunities created by new industries opening up under the Udom Emmanuel administration, but argued that the report did not reflect the reality.

The group said more jobs have been created in Akwa Ibom State between 2015 to date through industries and various self employment programmes designed for youth and women by the current administration.

“May we state that since Mr. Udom Emmanuel took over as Governor of Akwa Ibom State, he has attracted numerous industries into the State which have created many employment opportunities for young school leavers resident in the State. Governor Emmanuel has also encouraged self employment through various empowerment schemes for the youth and women.”

“While probing the report released by NBS, it is safe to conclude that since the State has had about 12 industries between 2015 and today, there has been an influx of job seekers to the State. This can be seen in the number of non-indigenes who have stayed back in the State after their National Youth Service, seeing the opportunities created.”

The group urged the public to disregard the report and the distracting political tinge that comes with it.

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