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NGO raises alarm over rising number of school drop-outs

12 July 2014, 17:58 Samuel Kisika

Nairobi – Plan International (Plan), a non-governmental child organization has raised concern over increased number of children dropping out of primary school in Africa.

Plan’s Regional Director in Eastern and Southern Africa, Roland Angerer said the recent survey on Africa’s child education shows that about 30 million children remain out of school.

Nearly 30 million primary school-aged children, mostly girls, are out of school in Africa. In Ethiopia, for instance, girls’ enrolment has leapt from 30% to 75% over a decade, whilst in other countries such as Niger and Eritrea; it remains well under 60%,” said Roland.

“Despite the progress made in primary school enrolment over the past decade, the likelihood of achieving primary education in Africa by 2015 looks increasingly remote as many more remain out of school,” he asserted.

Roland warned that the current trend of encouraging early marriages especially marrying young girls will see over 100 million of them married in the next decade.

“You might wonder where these girls are! One in seven is married by the age of 15.  Up to half of all girls in developing countries are mothers before they turn 18,” said Roland.

To help overcome challenges a girl child faces in acquiring education, Roland said his organization has developed a number of projects such as improved access and delivery of quality education, sexual and reproductive health life skills, partnerships in strengthening youth employment and empowering youth voices among other initiatives.

Roland pointed out that in Kenya, Plan is crusading for equality in accessing education for neglected adolescent girls, increasing their education funding, strengthening capacity and protection systems for violence against girls and educating teenagers on sexual and reproductive health and rights in addition to accessing appropriate services.

In Uganda, he said the organization is campaigning for increased decision-making and economic opportunities for marginalized youth in Lira and Tororo districts, contributing to community rehabilitation, reintegration and development.

For instance, Roland said Plan targets to support over 3 000 youths in the two Ugandan districts to acquire non-formal and vocational skills for self-employment, equip them with relevant skills for adoption in both public and private sectors as actors, and strengthening local training institutions and business to offer market-oriented courses, apprenticeships and job placements.

He asserted that their girl child campaign in Kenya in accessing education is bearing fruit citing that parents have shown commitment in gender-sensitivity especially in Kilifi and Tharaka constituencies where they visited. Roland noted that bursary committees in these constituencies have improved their applicants’ selection and allocation criteria by considering gender equality and committed to publishing gender disaggregated data on beneficiaries.

“As you can see, these projects do not just require significant financial investment but also requires policy changes and mind-set shifts, especially in the communities where we work,” said Roland.

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