The federal government says it is committed to addressing the cross-cutting concerns of out-of-school children and other vulnerable youth across the country.
The special adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on social investments, Maryam Uwais, said this on Saturday during the closing ceremony of a three-week capacity building training programme for 500 youth volunteers for At-Risk-Children Programme (ARC-P) in Gombe State.
The details of the event were contained in a statement issued and shared with PREMIUM TIMES by Mrs Uwais’ media aide, Justice Bibiye.
Mrs Uwais, who is the facilitator of the programme, a federal government’s initiative under the auspices of the Office of the Vice President, explained that the initiative was in collaboration with state governments, the private sector and other development partners, as well as other critical stakeholders.
She said the ARC-P scheme has assisted in giving a new lease of life to street children and young people who have found themselves in a disadvantaged position in life.
Globally, Nigeria currently has the largest number of out-of-school children in the world with an estimated 13.2 million figure, a 2018 survey conducted by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) indicates.
Most of these children are in Nigeria’s northern states of Borno, Yobe, and Adamawa, where insecurity has disrupted academic activities.
In August, PREMIUM TIMES had reported plans by the federal government on leveraging sporting activities to engage millions of young people and vulnerable youth and children across the country.
According to the presidential aide, having completed the three-week intensive capacity building programme, the graduands, who were trained on critical areas such as child education, entrepreneurship, financial literacy, digital skills, sports and agriculture, are expected to use the knowledge gained to provide further training, support and mentorship for various At-Risk-Children in their communities.
She said: “They have also been equipped to monitor the progress and challenges that may arise in respect of every child assigned to each of them, as youth facilitators, and report back to the Federal and State teams every month on their findings.”
The official also said monthly stipends would be paid to the participants towards supporting entrepreneurship opportunities arising from their own peculiar skills.
“This is a hugely ambitious task but we believe that it is one feasible way we can address the challenge of huge numbers of out-of-school-children across the country. We need to create an army of capacity within the communities to see how we can support these children who, through no fault of theirs, are deprived of so many rights and protections.
“This is why we are relying on you, the ARC-P facilitators, to support this initiative by applying the knowledge and skills you have garnered during the 3 weeks training in nurturing the vulnerable children and youth in your communities so that they can become useful and take ownership of their lives,” Mrs Uwais said.
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In his remarks, the Governor of Gombe State, Muhammad Yahaya, who was accompanied by his first wife, Asma’u Yahaya, and other top government functionaries, attributed the success of ARC-P activities in the state, including the conduct of the 500 youth facilitators’ induction training programme, to hard work, commitment and dedication.
He commended the ARC-P team for the initiative which, according to him, has made Gombe State to be a model in the implementation of the programme that has a direct bearing on the lives of vulnerable youth and children.
“This batch of ARC-P facilitators that have completed their training were selected from the databank of unemployed graduates that our administration established to link these graduates with appropriate job opportunities. As pioneers of this programme, I urge you all to work hard, uphold your knowledge for good practice and training, remain focused and above all, be good ambassadors of our administration’s effort towards improving human capital development in the State,” the governor said.