The Young Ambassador Against Drug Abuse Initiative, an Abuja-based Non-governmental Organisation has taken a step to enrol one million out-of-school children in school
Chief Executive Officer of the organization, Mr. Saifullahi Usman, represented by Ms. Esther Nwankwo, made this known during an event to mark the 2023 International Day for Street Children.
The event, which was jointly organised by YAADA, Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development and the Street Children’s Parliament, was meant to be an awareness campaign to commemorate the day.
International Day for Street Children is set aside annually by the United Nations to amplify the voices of millions of children abandoned on the streets in their vulnerabilities, and whose rights have been violated.
Usman said it had always been the desire of the group to give positive direction to children and youths in Nigeria, having witnessed high level of juvenile-based issues capable of destroying their future and the image of the country.
He said, “It is in view of the above that we wish to embark on a campaign to take one million children and youths off the streets by empowering them to go back to school, acquire skills, get engaged in sports, and psychosocial support for survivors of drug abuse.
“We intend to achieve this by partnering with the ministry to ensure vulnerable children identified to benefit from the alternative school programme.”
According to Usman, one million children are just five per cent of the 20 million out-of-school children in Nigeria.
“YAADA and other partners are committed to social change and sustainable development in education, economic empowerment, sports, medical rehabilitation, advocacy and other relevant community social services for abandoned children on the streets.
“This laudable initiative is achievable with the support of the government, private organisations, relevant stakeholders, well-meaning Nigerians and donor agencies through their positive contributions to the realisation of this noble objective.
“The likely impact of their contributions would be made manifest when our streets are emptied of helpless children begging to be fed, clothed, educated and constantly used as agents of destruction and not as agents of change,” he said.
Head of Special Duties, Humanitarian Ministry, Mrs. Nadia Muhammed, said it was sad to see millions of children in the world and Nigeria in particular living on streets, public spaces, abandoned buildings, and sleeping in parks, among others.
She said street children, just like all children, have the rights to protection as enshrined in ‘The Child Rights Convention’, as acknowledged and documented by the UN, hence the need for Nigeria to protect them.
“In light of the above and for social inclusivity of leaving no one behind, the ministry, under the leadership of Hajia Sadiya Umar Farouk has started a programme called the Alternate School Programme, to cater for street children and out-of-school children,” she added.
Muhammed said the Home-Grown School Feeding Programme is domiciled in the ministry as part of the National Social Investment Programme, adding that it had improved pupils’ enrolment in schools by lifting street children and increasing literacy level in Nigeria.