The United Nations Children’s Fund ( UNICEF ) says it hopes to expand access to quality education for 501,749 out-of-schildren in four states in the north by 2020 under its Cash Transfer Programme (CTP).

The CTP is being implemented in Kebbi, Sokoto, Katsina and Zamfara under the Educate A Child (EAC-CTP) and Girls Education Project phase 3 (GEP3-CTP) project across 18 Local government Area in the state.

UNICEF Education Specialist, Azuka Menkiti, disclosed this at a two-day workshop for Education Correspondent in Sokoto, on Wednesday.

The workshop was organised by the Child Rights Information Bureau ( CRIB ) of the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture in collaboration with the United Nations Children’s Fund ( UNICEF ).

The CTP is a UNICEF Programme which hopes to increase enrollment in schools and also keep pupils in school by giving their parents money to provide human capital development for them children.

The target under its EAC-CTP intervention is to reach 41,391 child beneficiaries and their female caregivers in four years: 31,044 in Kebbi State and 10,347 in Zamfara State.

“The overall goal of EAC is to expand access to quality basic education for 501,749 out-of-school children (OOSC) by 2020 in Katsina, Kebbi, Sokoto and Zamfara.

“Our main hope is that by 2020, we will be able to bring 501,749 into school. That is almost half a million who are missing education.

“The project is being implemented in partnership with target state governments, which have a high-burden of out-of-school girls, in northern Nigeria.

“Through its interventions, GEP3 aims to improve access, retention and quality ensuring that learning outcomes for girls improve,” she said.

She identified poverty as a major reason why children, especially girls, are not attending primary schools in the north.

According to her, the focus of UNICEF is to increase access of children in the north to education and to ensure that quality learning actually took place in primary schools.

She said enrollment had increased in states where the cash transfer intervention project had been implemented by UNICEF.

“Cash transfer comes quickly as a very good solution that will reduce poverty. The main purpose is to reduce the poverty related reasons that prevent boys and girls from going to schools.

“Cash transfer addresses solely issues of enrollment. It is directed at addressing demands in education,” she added.

Commissioner for Higher Education, Sokoto, Dr: Muhammed Kirgori, said the state governor, Aminu Tambuwal had declared a state of emergency on education in the state in order to address the challenges of out-of-school children in the state.

The commissioner said the state government was concerned by the huge figures of children not going to school.

This, he said, has made the government to come up with short, medium and long term solutions to the problem of education in the state.

He also said the state government had released 500 million to sustain the cash transfer Programme in the state.

“We key into the cash transfer programme of UNICEF and other partners because of the impact it has made in the sampled local government.

“We have introduced the Programme in all the twenty three local governments in the state,” he said.

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