• Holds charity event to raise funds, return children to school
As part of efforts to address the growing number of out-of-school children, a non-governmental organisation, Ibironke Adeagbo Foundation (IAF), has called on the government to put legislation in place that will ensure that children of school age are not left out of school.
While expressing concern over increased cases of out-of-school children, the foundation expressed concern that the nation is sitting on a ticking-time-bomb if government continues to ignore children on the streets.
Founder and chief executive officer of IA foundation, Mrs. Ibironke Adeagbo, who spoke on the highlight of the third yearly charity event of the foundation, which holds every February 26, stressed the need for government at all levels to prioritise education, warning that out-of-school children of today would be bandits of tomorrow if necessary attention is not paid t them.
Besides, Adeagbo said government should set up a parastatal to look into ways of reducing the number of out-of-school children, saying this is critical, otherwise the nation would have bigger security challenges in future.
Adeagbo, who identified insecurity, poverty and early child marriage as some of the factors responsible for increase in number of out-of-school children reminded that education is key to fighting poverty.
“Government should also come up with more initiatives, such as the school feeding programme to encourage parents to send their wards to school,” she added.
She noted that the foundation was borne out of concern for the growing rate of out-of-school children in Nigeria and how to reduce this number.
Adeagbo, a chartered accountant based in the United Kingdom, said: “Whenever I come to Nigeria, I see lots of children on the streets, some of them are wiping my windscreen in traffic and I kept wondering what they are doing on the streets when they should be in school. The security challenges has exacerbated the situation, especially in the north, because children are being kidnapped and parents are now scared of sending their wards to school. This has increased the number of out-of-school children in Nigeria.”
She said since the foundation was launched in 2019, it has been going on the streets, picking up children, sending them to school, paying their bursaries, buying shoes, bags, books and other learning materials.
“Our first flagship students graduated last year from Federal University of Technology, Akure (FUTA). Basically, we feel this is our own way of adding value to Nigeria, in terms of ensuring that an average Nigerian child gets education, and we also see it as a silver bullet to Nigeria’s security challenges because kidnappers and bandits of today, the only reason they are involved in the act is because they haven’t got what to eat, or are living in poverty because they haven’t got skills. Out-of-school children of those years have now grown up to become armed bandits and kidnappers of today. To avert a worse situation in future, we need to pay attention to children who are out-of-school now, put them in school so that they don’t become bandits in future. This is the concept of IA foundation.
She added that the mission of the foundation is to ensure that every child has access to quality education, so that they could fulfill their potentials, bring them out of poverty, ensure that everyone has access to education to enable us meet target in terms of human capacity. “It’s a global world and talents move from one country to the other, so if our own children are not educated, how can they be globally competitive? It’s absolutely critical that every Nigerian child, no matter his or her background, has access to education,” Adeagbo said.
Apart from putting children in school, the IA founder said the foundation also provides infrastructure for children, citing the recent borehole project at Makoko slum.
On the charity event, Adeagbo explained that the programme was aimed at raising the profile of the foundation to create awareness and get support from people in the area of funding, to be able to return out-of-school children to school. She enjoined people to log in using the link https://bit.ly/3ekgzDq
Adeagbo said: “This year was our third. The first year was a physical one, second was virtual because of COVID-19 and now, we are doing it virtually as well. What we are doing is encouraging people to join us on zoom; we are going to have key speakers who would talk about how we can reduce the number of out-of-school children. The speakers include Dr Oby Ezekwesili, Pastor Ituah Ighodalo, and a young American advocate of Nigerian descent, miss Zuriel Oduwole, who is passionate about ensuring that every Nigerian child gains access to education.
“Other activities include raffle draw, already, we have partnered British Airways, who has donated a return ticket from Lagos to London, as our star prize. Our second prize is a 43-inch television; third prize is a laptop, while the fourth prize is an Ipad with other consolatory prizes. With this raffle draw, many people would log on during the event and help raise the profile of out-of-school children, donate so that we could use these funds to see them through school.”