By Wole Adedeji, Ilorin
A Kwara State philanthropist and a one-time governorship aspirant, Engr. Adebayo Babalola, has described as sad a UNICEF report that a total number of 13.2 million children in Nigeria are out of school and that the situation worsens every day.
Engr. Babalola said the figure according to the UNICEF represents 7% of the country’s population while its 70% of the figure are from the Northern part of Nigeria “where the Almajiri system is widely practiced.”
Babakola spoke at the flag off of the 6th edition of an annual Scholarship Award Ceremony by his foundation, Bayo & Bunmi Foundation, where he gave out the sum of N10 million to secondary and tertiary institutions’ students in Kwara State.
The scholarship he said, would cater for 549 students made up of 95 pupils in Junior Secondary Schools in class three, 64 for those in the final class of Senior Secondary, 169 for those in Tertiary institutions and 221 others who are in need.
He added that though the outbreak of COVID-19 made the 2020 edition impossible, his foundation had in the past, given out a total sum of N19.4 million comprising N17 million directly to the beneficiaries and N2.4 million to cater for logistics.
He disclosed that because of the inability to give out scholarship in 2020, he decided to jack up the disbursement this year to make the total sum of N29.4 million.
Still speaking on the disturbing number of the out-of-school children in Nigeria and the apparent indifference to it by the governments at all levels, Babalola asserted that the increasing diverse vices among youths in the country today could not be divorced from the inadequate concerns given to the desired education of Nigerian children.
His words: “Education is instrumental to the emergence of outstanding professionals, business tycoons, local government, state, national and world leaders.
“Without education therefore, the society, alas the world at large, will not only stagnate but retrogress. Crimes, poverty, sickness, insecurity and total darkness will overwhelm the whole world.”
The non-governmental organisation (NGO) owner cited Vice President Yemi Osinbajo who he said aptly once captured the importance of education when he posited that “when a country is underdeveloped, and it is wiped out by disease and infant mortality; it is because most of the minds in that country lack education.
“The only way to develop the human mind is education and the only way by which man can live better than any other creature, and live up to his God-given responsibility, is to develop his community, to provide for that community, providing for the children simply means to provide them education.”