By Peter Okutu

ABAKALIKI—NO fewer than 78 communities in Ikwo, Izzi, Afikpo South, Ezza North, Ivo and Ishielu Local Government Areas of Ebonyi State, yesterday,  identified ignorance, poverty, peer group influence, unemployment, get rich syndrome, personal decision, poor child spacing, early marriage as some of the factors militating against the rate of enrolment of Ebonyi children in schools in the state.

Other factors included  distance of home from school, lack of interest, polygamy, hawking, payment of unaffordable fees in school and dereliction of duties on the part of teachers.

Recent surveys carried out by some educational institutions in the country indicated that there are more  children out of school than those attending classes in Ebonyi State.

These factors were identified following a community dialogue initiated by the United Nations International Children Education Fund, UNICEF, in collaboration with Universal Basic Education Board, UBEB, of Ebonyi State government to curb the ugly  trend of poor enrolment affecting the state, especially in the rural areas.

The community members, who were drawn from School Based Management Committees, SBMC/PTA, women organizations/mothers associations,youth associations, community leaders/town union executives, faith-based organizations, x-rayed the reasons for the poor enrolment and proffered possible solutions to the problem.

In a chat with Vanguard at Urban Primary School, Ndufu-Echara community in Ikwo Local Government Area of the state, a representative of a civil society organization covering UNICEF activities in Ebonyi State, Miss Abigail Okpebholo, who expressed dissatisfaction over the poor enrolment of Ebonyi children in schools, noted that with the community dialogue initiative introduced by UNICEF through Ebonyi State government, the situation would soon turn around for the better.

“By this dialogue, we are getting closer to the locals. They are the ones identifying the problems and giving solutions, and as such, it will increase the number of children to be enrolled in schools,” she said ours is to hear from them, guide them while their role is to come up with a work plan that will enable them kick start and implement the enrolment drive campaign effectively and efficiently in their communities. We came to them because these communities feel nobody or institution cares for them, their children or the future.”

UNICEF Desk Officer for the state UBEB, Christogonus Nweke, Mrs Maria Oselebe, Director Social Mobilization for UBEB and UBEB Desk Officer on Advocacies and Mobilization Activities, Mr. Ogeh Kenneth charged the members of the communities to be proactive and innovative towards implementing all the solutions proffered to the situation in the State.

They further urged them to see the initiative as their community’s personal project which would not only guarantee increase in the enrolment of Ebonyi children in schools but also enhance the development of the State.