An Abuja-based NGO, The Young Ambassador Against Drug Abuse Initiative (YAADA) is to enroll one million out-of-school children.
Mr Saifullahi Usman, Chief Executive Officer of the YAADA, represented by Miss Esther Nwankwo, made this known at an event to mark the 2023 International Day for Street Children.
The event jointly organised by YAADA, Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development (MHADMSD), Street Children’s Parliament, is an awareness campaign in Nigeria to commemorate the day.
The day was set aside by the United Nations to amplify the voices of millions of children on the street abandoned in their vulnerabilities whose rights is being violated.
He said it had always been the desire of the group to give positive direction to children and youths in Nigeria, having witnessed high level of juvenile issues capable of destroying their future and the image of the country.
“It is in view of the above that we wish to embark on campaign to take one million children and youths off the streets by empowering them to go back to school, acquire skills, engage in sports and psychosocial support for survivors of drug abuse” She said.
“We intend to achieve this by partnering with the ministry and ensure vulnerable children identified benefit from the alternate school program.
According to him, one million children is just five per cent of the 20 million out-of-school children in Nigeria.
“YAADA and other partners are committed for social change and sustainable development in education, economic empowerment, sports, medical rehabilitation, advocacy and other relevant community social services for the abandoned children on the streets.
“This laudable initiative is achievable with the support of government, private organisations, relevant stakeholders, well-meaning Nigerians and donor agencies by making positive contributions to the realisation of this noble objective.
“The likely impact of their contributions would be made manifest when our streets are emptied of helpless children begging to be fed, clothed, educated and constantly used as agents of destruction and not as agents of change,” he said.
Speaking earlier, Mrs Nadia Muhammed, Head of Special Duties in the humanitarian ministry said it was sad to see millions of children in the world and Nigeria in particular living on streets, public spaces, abandoned building, sleeping in parks and others.
Muhammed said street children, just like all children have the rights for protection as enshrined in ‘The Child Rights Convention’, as acknowledged and documented by the UN, hence the need for Nigeria to protect them.
“In light of the above and for social inclusivity of leaving no one behind, the ministry, under the leadership of Hajia Sadiya Umar Farouk has started a programme called the Alternate School Programme (ASP) to cater for street children and Out-of-School Children”.
She said the Home-Grown School Feeding Programme of President Muhammadu Buhari domiciled in the ministry as part of the National Social Investment Programme NSIP.
She added that the programme had imptoved pupils enrolment in schools by lifting the street children and increased literacy level in Nigeria.
Master Peter James, a 16-year-old pupil of the Junior Secondary School Wuse, expressed delight to be part of the programme which was educative.
James, who explained that most children were becoming frustrated with the life due to the abandonment by some parents and called on government to put more efforts to remedy the trend.