Governor Douye Diri of Bayelsa State on Tuesday expressed regret at the estimated 250,000 out-of-school children in the state, saying the figure was worrisome and alarming.
The Governor urged parents, traditional rulers and community leaders to join hands with government to reverse the trend.
Diri spoke during the inauguration of a national campaign on out-of-school children organised by the Federal Ministry of Education.
The governor said his administration would do its part to ensure that education was accessible to every child of school age in the state.
He urged parents and community leaders to endure that they enrolled their children and wards in schools.
He said the state government had continued to support free primary and secondary education in the state with the purchase of uniforms and instructional materials.
Lamenting the number of out-of-school children in the state in spite of an existing law, Diri implored relevant ministries to ensure that the law was publicised and implemented to the letter.
He also called on the state House of Assembly to rise to its oversight role on laws to ensure they were implemented.
Diri commended the Federal Ministry of Education for taking the campaign to Bayelsa State, saying the people of the state and the Niger Delta region would benefit from the initiative.
He said: “A law was passed by the Bayelsa State House of Assembly on this matter in 2018.
“Bayelsa State has started addressing the issue long before now.
“The campaign by the Federal Government is a key that has opened our eyes to the level of out-of-school children in our state.
“The issue is mostly about implementation.
“We have the laws to ensure that our children are educated.
“This law has to be implemented across all our communities.
“The Ministries of Information and Education must do all within their powers to ensure that the public is aware of this law and it is implemented.”
The governor said also that it was unbelievable that a law on school enrolment was in place and the state still had out-of-school children.
Diri added: “Let me use this opportunity to call on parents to ensure that they take advantage of the provisions of government.
“There is free primary education.
“Uniforms and other instructional materials are provided by government.”
The Governor pledged that Bayelsa State would continue to prioritise education and have a paradigm shift that would be beyond certificates.
In his remarks, the Minister of State for Education, Goodluck Nanah-Opiah, who led the campaign, noted that education was a collective responsibility.
Nanah-Opiah called on all stakeholders to join forces to eradicate the menace of out-of-school children in the interest of the country.
He said the Federal Ministry of Education had put mechanisms in place to ensure that education was accessible to children of school age and appealed to the state government to continue to prioritise education.
Nanah-Opiah lauded the Bayelsa State Government for its investment in the education sector, urging it not to relent