Abdullahi Ganduje, governor of Kano State has said that majority of out-of-school children in the state are not its indigenes, but a coterie of people from Niger Republic, Chad, Sokoto, Zamfara, Katsina and other places.
The governor stated this when a team of girl-child education advocacy, High-Level Women Advocates, HILWA, founded by the United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, paid him a visit at the Government House on Monday.
DAILY NIGERIAN reports that the NGOs were at the governor’s office to discuss the way forward as the state is believed to be harboring over 1.4 million out-of-school children, out of which over 700,000 are girls.
However, in his remarks, the governor claimed that information available to the state government had shown that most of the children are not indigenes of the state.
According to him, most of the children interrogated identified their origins outside Kano, adding that some are not even Nigerians.
“A large number of out-of-school children in Kano is indeed worrisome. But, the truth of the matter is that, most of these children are not from Kano. Information at our disposal indicated that the majority of these children are not indigenes of Kano.
“You will ask a boy his origin, he will tell you is from Niger Republic, Chad, Sokoto, Zamfara, Katsina and so on. A few of them will tell you they are from Kano. So, the data given by the international organisation on out-of-school children do not represent a true picture of the issue,” Mr Ganduje lamented.
The governor, however, stated that his administration would not relent in its commitment to providing education to every child in the state, adding that his government and Kano emirate council would soon submit a bill to House of Assembly to that effect.
He disclosed that the state government will soon start arresting street beggars and parents who refuse to send their children to school.
He also stated that the bill, if signed into law, would ensure that education is compulsory for every child from primary to the secondary school level.
He said: “Begging is not religion. Begging is not in the religion of Islam. Those children begging on the street instead of going to school will be arrested and their parents be charged to court for failing to take them to goal school.”
The governor also disclosed that the bill, if signed into law, would reform the institution of marriage and discourage early marriage, which according to him, effect the well-being of girl-child negatively.
“These girls are married off at 11,12 or 13 years without completing their education or even not be taken to school at all. This has a negative impact on their well-being.
“Their body is not strong enough to withstand the rigorous nature of pregnancy, as such, they become vulnerable to so many diseases.
“Besides, they will not get the education which is very important in their life. Women education is a treasure to society. So, we will come up with a law to protect girl-child education,” said Mr Ganduje.
He thanked the representatives of UNICEF and HILWA for coming up with crucial issues on education in the state, saying, “had these moves happened 20 years ago, we would have now been discussing other issues, not education.”
“But it is still not late. Education development is a collective effort. All hands must be on deck to achieve that feat. I am very happy with your initiative and visit. You have indeed made my day and scratch where it itches me. Congratulations,” he said.
Earlier in a remark, team leader of the UNICEF in Kano, Ni’imatullah Bala-Umar commended the governor for his commitment in education.
She also urged the governor to do more in the area of student enrolment, funding and infrastructure, as well as improvement in girls education.