A non-governmental organisation, Save the Children International Nigeria, has warned that the global pandemic is threatening to cause an additional gap of 6.2 billion dollars in investment in education in Sub-Saharan region over the next 18 months.
The country director, Save the Children International Nigeria, Mercy Gichuhi, in a press statement issued in Abuja Monday lamented that the deep budget cut to education combined with rising poverty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic could force millions of children out of school forever.
She said girls are likely to be much worse affected than boys, with many forced into child marriage as the impact of recession triggered by COVID-19 hits families and many children forced out of school and into labor markets.
She called on the federal government and donors to respond to global education emergency by urgently investing in education as schools begin to reopen after months of lockdown.
She also urged commercial creditors to suspend debt repayments by low-income countries globally – a move that could free up $14 billion for investment in education.
“Even before the COVID-19 crisis, Nigeria is estimated to have over 10 million out of school children, one of the highest rates in the world. The impact of school closures extends beyond disruption to education – they also carry other risks to children.
“Children who are out of school are at greater risk of being recruited into labor, abuse, violence and exploitation, and for girls, they are more likely to never return to school when lessons re-commence.
“As pressure mounts on low income families, children may need to work to bolster family incomes, and girls will face a disproportionately larger burden for caring for family members who contract the virus and taking care of younger children.
“Therefore, there is a tendency that the situation could add millions more into the existing caseload of out of school children in Nigeria.”