There number of out-of-school children in Nigeria is 12.3 million out of a population of nearly 200 million and that should be a source of concern for anyone who wants the best for the nation.

Bayelsa is one place that shares from this number and a visit to the state will confirm it.

Children go about hawking different daily needs to help their families make ends meet. Some of the hawkers are in school while some 265,000 are out of school.

To address the situation, the Bayelsa State government and UNICEF are collaborating. 

On Monday, both parties launched a school enrolment drive to reduce the rate of Out-of-School Children.

The exercise was preceded by the inauguration of a 15-member Enrolment Drive Committee by the Commissioner for Education, Mr Jonathan Obuebite.

Obuebite urged the Committee headed by Mr Walton Liverpool, Executive Secretary of the State Universal Education Board (SUBEB), to drive the policy of increasing enrolment across schools in Bayelsa.

He noted that the state recorded a 100% increase following massive investment in excess of 70 billion Naira in the education sector from 2012 till date.

According to him, primary and secondary education were free and compulsory in the state.

Liverpool said that the campaign would cover the eight council areas of Bayelsa with the support of stakeholders to encourage the girl child to complete her education.

The government official said that of the 265,000 out-of-school children in the state, 60% (165,000) were girls. 

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He also noted that teenage pregnancy had contributed to the number of out-of-school girls d the girl child to drop out of school, a development that made UNICEF and the state to lay much emphasis on the girl-child in the campaign.

A representative of UNICEF, Dr Azuka Menkiti, stated that the United Nations agency was supporting the drive to reduce the out-of-school rate in 15 states including Bayelsa.

According to her, UNICEF intervenes in education in three thematic areas of access, quality and governance through capacity building and funding support to benefiting states.

She urged the girls to resist the pressure to indulge in sexual activities, which led to unwanted teenage pregnancy that aborts the education of the girl-child.

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