File photo of President Muhammadu Buhari

From Bello Wakili (Abuja)

President Muhammadu Buhari has directed the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development to coordinate and lead the deployment of a National Plan to address the issue of out-of-school children in the country.

Inaugurating the 18-member Presidential Steering Committee on Alternate School Programme (ASP) co-chaired by the Ministers of Humanitarian Affairs and Education, the President said it was unacceptable to see children abandoning formal school to engage in menial jobs and child labour in the markets, streets and workshops.

President Buhari said the National Plan to be deployed by the Federal Government, through the Humanitarian Affairs Ministry, would ensure a holistic and comprehensive inclusiveness of appropriate basic education for vulnerable children.

President Buhari noted that in view of ‘‘some United Nations agencies that report a disturbing level of out of school children estimated at 13 million’’, the Humanitarian Affairs Ministry had identified the critical need to further address literacy inclusiveness, especially among these vulnerable children.

He also used the occasion to reiterate the commitment of the Federal Government to deal with key challenges of absolute poverty and propel Nigeria and Nigerians to a better way of life and development.

Reviewing the administration’s programmes on poverty eradication, President Buhari expressed delight that many countries are now admiring and imitating Nigeria’s social investment programmes as an effective strategy in the fight against poverty.

He said the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development has the mandate to ensure full coordination of all poverty eradication.

Other members of the Presidential Steering Committee on ASP are Chairman, Northern Governors’ Forum, Minister of State, Budget and National Planning, Minister of State, Education, Senior Special Assistant to the President, Sustainable Development Goals, Executive Secretary, Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), Director General, National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) and the National President, Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON).

Others are Representative, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Representative, United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), Representative, Global Partnership for Education, Chairman, Private Sector Advisory Group – SDGs, Chairman, Civil Society Coalition on Sustainable Development, Chairman, Senate Committee on Basic Education, Chairman, House Committee on Basic Education, Hon. Dr. Shehu Balarabe Kakale, while the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development will serve as Secretary.

The President implored all members of the committee to take this assignment with the utmost seriousness, saying ‘‘the future of the country’s young people is at stake.’

In her remarks, Minister for Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Umar Farouq, said the success of the programme will be a turning point in the nation’s development history as it will accelerate their drive towards sustainable development.”