UNICEF’s Country Representative, Peter Hawkins, said despite gains recorded on the situation facing young people in Nigeria, much needs to be done as the country still has the highest number of out-of-school children globally, totalling over 10.5 million.
Hawkins spoke in Abuja at the 2019 Naija Youth Talk Programme organised by UNICEF to reflect on the progress made by young people to create the Nigeria everyone wants and to build momentum, and support for further action.
Represented by UNICEF’s Chief of Basic Education, Dr Euphrates Efosie, the country rep noted that more than 64 million people out of the country’s estimated 200 million population were between 15 to 35 years age bracket, making Nigeria the country with the largest youth bulge in the world.
He warned that the large youth population could be a challenge to national development if not properly managed and harnessed, adding however that the youth population of any nation was a key ingredient to national development, a bridge and transition to a prosperous future.
“Young people today live in a world of unlimited potential. However, despite gains in the situation facing Nigerian children and young people in recent years, much remains to be done. Too many Nigerian children and young people are being left behind, especially when it comes to education.
“Nigeria has the world’s highest number of out-of-school children. More than 10.5 million Nigerian children are not in school,” he said.
According to him, UNICEF and partners want to build on the momentum of young people as the world commemorates the 30th anniversary of the convention on the rights of the child and keep youth voices at the centre of the debate.
“Today’s conversation tagged, the Naija Youth Talk, focusing on The Nigeria We Want, will allow young people to reflect on and celebrate the progress made by the youth to create the Nigeria we all want, as well as to build momentum, and support for future action,” he said.
Also speaking, Founder of Slum2School Africa, Otto Orondaam, said Nigeria was a country of great potentials, and called on the nation’s leaders to come together and create a vision for the country that every citizen will pursue.
Orondaam stressed the need for inclusive education in the country, stating that he wants to see a Nigeria where every person with disability goes to school and can become the president of the country.