UNICEF and the Bayelsa government on Monday flagged off a school enrolment drive to reduce the rate of Out of School Children in the state which currently stands at 265,000.
The commencement of the campaign was preceded by the inauguration of a 15 member Enrolment Drive Committee by Commissioner for Education Mr Jonathan Obuebite.
Obuebite had urged the Committee headed by Mr Walton Liverpool, Executive Secretary of the State Universal Education Board (SUBEB) to drive the policy of increasing school enrolment across the state.
He noted that the state recorded a 100 per cent increase following massive investment in excess of N70 billion in the education sector from 2012 till date adding that primary and secondary education is free and compulsory.
Speaking at the enrolment drive campaign flag off, Liverpool said that the campaign shall take place across the eight council areas of Bayelsa with the support of stakeholders to encourage the girl child to complete her education.
He said that out of the 12.3 million out of school children in Nigeria, Bayelsa accounts for 265,000 of them, 60 per cent of who are girls.
He noted that teenage pregnancy compels the girl child to drop out of school, a development that compelled UNICEF and the state to lay much emphasis on the girl child in the campaign.
Dr Azuka Menkiti, representative of UNICEF stated that the United Nations agency was supporting the drive to reduce the out of school rate in 15 states including Bayelsa.
She said that UNICEF intervenes in education in three thematic areas of access, quality and governance through capacity building and funding support to benefitting states.
She urged the girls to resist the pressure to indulge in sexual activities which leads to unwanted teenage pregnancy that aborts that education of the girl child.
“As a mother, I will tell you as I also tell my daughters that all the things men tell you at this your age is all lies, there is time for everything, and this is the right time for you to remain in school and complete your education.
“I urge all of us to encourage our girls to remain in school and complete their primary and secondary education as well as tertiary education because their future life is guaranteed by a good education.
“To parents, the best investment for our children remains a good education, and we want to work with Bayelsa government to change the narrative that teenage pregnancy is the obstacle to education of girls in Bayelsa,” Menkiti said.
Stakeholders who witnessed the campaign flag off include, leaders of Faith Based Organisations in Bayelsa, Students and Pupils of selected primary and secondary schools, women and traditional leaders.