Anambra State Government in collaboration with the State Child Rights Implementation Committee (ASCRIC) has concluded plans to fight all forms of use of underaged children in begging and hawking during school hours to a standstill.
To achieve this, a total of 543 out of school children comprising of 240 male and 303 females respectively have been identified in seven major urban areas of the state through observational technique carried out by ASCRIC.
According to the State Co_Chairman of ASCRIC, Hope Okoye, the seven urban areas include Onitsha, Awka, Nnewi, Ekwulobia, Umunze, Ihiala and Nkpor.
The Co Chairman who was speaking with newsmen shortly after its quarterly meeting in Awka, said out of the identified children the tripartite arrangement was exploring means of sponsoring 30 of them through scholarship support scheme back to school.
“We have just started this strategic plan called support back to school campaign to get at least 30 indigent pupils from the streets through scholarship back to school.
When we visited the Commissioner for Basic Education, Prof Kate Omenugha, she was pained that out of school children could be exposed to dangers of rape, defilement, kidnap or ritual purposes”
“So we intend to profile the children to determine those trafficked from other states and exploited by the people who trafficked them, find out those who dropped out of school as a result of poverty” Okoye said.
While appealing for support from various stakeholders for the success of the exercise, she commended the effort of the State Ministry of Basic Education, NAPTIP and ROLAC for logistic and technical support services.
She, then, disclosed that efforts were being made to resuscitate Child Rights Club in both primary and secondary schools in the state as part of efforts to sensitize them about their rights.
She warned that a jail term of 10 years awaited anybody caught violating child’s right to education under the provisions of the state child rights law 2004.
The State Programme Co Ordinator of ROLAC,supported by the British Council, Josephine Onah, commended ASCRIC and the State Ministry of Basic Education for introducing the initiative to reduce cases of out of school children in the state.
While calling for its sustenance to record more positive results, she urged every stakeholder and members of the committee not to relent but redouble their efforts.