For most societies, education is the basis of their evolvement. We are in a constantly evolving world; the new technologies, social, political, and economic development are a few of what education has contributed to human society.
In Africa, the importance of education to society cannot be overemphasized.
Focusing on education and reduction of out-of-school youth will play a key role in the decrease in crime rate, community development, information and communication technology, adaptation to innovations, economic development, involvement in politics, and establishment of democracy in some African countries to mention a few.
All these will not happen with the continuous increase in the number of out-of-school youth.
According to UNESCO, in sub-Saharan Africa, one out of every 5 children between the ages of 6-11 and one out of every three children between the ages 12-14 are out of school. About 60% of youth between the ages of 15-17, according to the UIS data, are out of school.
The numbers are on the rise, and without urgent action, the situation will get out of hand. This has been the major concern of UNESCO and some Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs).
We need to look from the roots
To fight this issue, the causes of rising numbers of youth that are not in school must be focused on. This will give a clear path on how to combat the issue. Some of the leading causes of increasing numbers of out-of-school children are mentioned below.
Poverty: This is one of the leading causes of high numbers of out-of-school youth. Due to hardship and very low income, some parents find it very hard to even feed their family and clothe them. They would prefer the children start doing menial jobs to support themselves and the family instead of sitting in classrooms.
The little income they bring home will be added to the family income and most times, it will still not be enough. How then do you want these people to stay in the classroom when they cannot even afford three square meals? They will have to buy books, uniforms, bags and shoes, and other stationery to enhance their learning, but they cannot afford the least of them.
Lack of basic infrastructures: There are communities in Africa, even in Nigeria that lack basic infrastructures like health centers and schools. How then will the youth in a community like this stay in school when there are no school structures to begin with or dilapidated structures that can fall at any moment?
Ignorance: Some parents did not attend school so they see no reason why their children should attend one. They believe the children should follow in their footsteps and not go in the Westerner way. This ignorance is also the reason for parents giving birth to more children than they can afford to take care of.
There is no proper family planning, no medical advice, they keep on reproducing year in year out. Some of these parents have many children so the children can help them on the farm instead of being in school.
Wars and displacement: As sad as the situation, it is the reality of some communities that have been displaced by wars and insecurities. The displaced people have to live in Internally Displaced Camps (IDP) and live off government and NGOs aids. They are traumatized and constantly in fear of the unknown.
Northern Nigeria, for example, has been facing an insurgency by Boko Haram which has led to the kidnapping of school children, burning of schools, and displacement of communities. Unfortunately, bright, and promising youth are being denied the right to education due to these problems.
Socio-cultural and economic barriers: Even though primary education is free and made compulsory in Nigeria, according to UNICEF, about 10.5 million children are not in school. This is because, in some rural communities, religion and socio-cultural beliefs play key roles in the education of youth.
Some cultural and religious practices discourage formal education especially girl child education.
Fighting the good fight starts now!
To alleviate poverty, the governments in Africa have a major role to play. These countries must invest in people, especially in women in local communities. They should invest in agriculture thereby creating a source of income for people which will, in turn, make basic things affordable for families.
The focus should be more on exporting their products rather than importing food and other things.
Investment in the health care system and enlightening communities about family planning is very important. The effect of this will be evident in the control of childbirth and proper family planning. Provision of female products as well as sex education will reduce the number of children that are out of school due to pregnancy.
Government (and support from some NGOs) can and should create a conducive environment… delivering quality education by enlightening parents and communities on the importance…
For every youth that is allowed to stay in school, there is a ripple effect. Such as the liberation of oneself first, their family, and the economic ripple effect to their community. As the number of youths that are out of school decreases, the economic impact is obvious on the community.
This is why the educational sector needs to be invested in.
Government (and support from some NGOs) can and should create a conducive environment in the educational sector, to increase the number of youths that will stay in school and increase the demand for education. New school structures and repair of old and dilapidated buildings should be implemented.
Teachers should use standard methods of teaching and should attend seminars often to improve their knowledge and competency resulting in the delivery of quality education.
The Emmanuel Osemota Foundation (EOF), in fighting this good cause, has done, and is still doing its part in enabling a better environment for education and delivering quality education by enlightening parents and communities on the importance of education, providing books and other stationeries to youths and giving scholarships to exceptional students.
EOF also gives teachers awards and opportunities to try new methods of learning. Our objective is to create enabling environment and opportunities for more youth to get educated. We offer after-school programs and fund them adequately.
So far, our approach has brought improvement, so we are motivated to do more, and we are encouraging you to donate to this cause by clicking here.
Let’s fight the good fight together to keep our youth in school.
Written by Emmanuel J. Osemota