By Amgbare Ekaunkumor, Yenagoa
The United Nations International Children Education Fund in collaboration with the Bayelsa State Universal Basic Education Board have taken enrolment drive campaign to communities in Bayelsa State to check the increasing rate of school drop out among children in the country which is currently assuming a freighting dimension.
The sensitization campaign was held in Ayama and Igeibiri communities in Southern Ijaw LGA of Bayelsa State with traditional rulers, the Community Development Committee Chairmen, youth leaders, women leaders, head teachers and principals invited schools, PTA chairmen, pupils and students, the police as well as youth corps members.
Speaking on the “Effect of School Drop-out in our Community”, SUBEB Social Mobilization Officer, Mrs Kate Ziriki said that government is concerned about the increasing rate of school drop out and its negative effect in the society and has therefore put measures in place to curb the ugly trend.
Mrs. Ziriki noted that in order to reduce the incidences of school drop out, government has provided school facilities for the communities, making education free and compulsory from primary to secondary school, creation of awarenesses on the Child Right Act, enforcement of sanctions against parents for violation and the sensitization of school children on the dangers of cultism, teenage pregnancy and sexual harassment.
She highlighted the major causes of school drop out to include, poor financial background of parents, peer group influence and the withdrawal of children for economic activities, saying that the education of the children is a right that must not be denied.
The SUBEB Social Mobilization Officer advised parents to be watchful over the activities of their children in order not to be influenced by bad companies.
Mrs. Zikiri admonished the pupils and students to take their studies seriously, stressing that education is the only weapon that can make them a responsible citizens in the society.
Delivering lecture on the negative effect of early teenage pregnancy, cultism and sexual harrassment in schools, the Southern Ijaw LGA Education Secretary, Mrs. Kontei Amara said these vices are the major causes of school drop out among children and called on parents to encourage and ensure that their children acquire education.
Mrs. Amara stated that poverty is one of the major causes of teenage pregnancy in our communities, explaining that it can be prevented through sex education of the girl-child, using peer review and mentorship to reinforce positive healthy socialization behaviours as well as encouraging teenagers to engage in sports and other recreational activities.
Also speaking, the Supervisor of Education, Southern Ijaw LGA, Hon. Obefiah Ayebasin lauded UNICEF and SUBEB for the sensitization campaign, noting that it will go along way to education parents, teachers and the children to guard against those factors that causes drop out in schools.
”This is an initiative that is very necessary for a better society for our children because knowledge is one thing everyone needs to grow with and as children they need to be told certain things that encourages them to keep on with what they are doing.
“As children who are in school, the thing that will enable them to continue their education and not bo be distracted by the things that are anti activities of the society. They need to be told those things, be educated with those things that will encourage them to keep up with their education.
“And that is the reason why this programme has been put up to enable our students and people to be aware of the enemies to their education and we thank God this programme has come to Igeibiri today and we believe by the grace of God, this year another one will come again to keep encouraging them so that we see a better future in the lives of our young one”, he started.