The Minister of State for Education, Goodluck Nana Opia has appealed to Bayelsa Lawmakers to give the compulsory education bill accelerated passage to help tackle the out-of-school children menace in the state.
The Minister made the appeal on Tuesday at the flag-off ceremony of the National Campaign on out-of-school children in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa state capital.
The compulsory Education Bill which is awaiting passage seeks to make it compulsory for every parent and guardian to send their children to school in order to rid Bayelsa state of out-of-school children and school dropouts.
Under the bill, parents of children of school age between 6-18 years who are out of school will be arrested and prosecuted.
According to the Minister, 60% of out-of-school children in Bayelsa state are girls.
Furthermore, the Minister said the Federal Government through the instrumentality of the Universal Basic Education (UBEC) was working to assist the states to strengthen basic education by confronting factors that deny children early education, including extreme poverty, ignorance, and access to education among others.
The Minister said the sensitization was designed to ensure massive enrolment of children in basic schools.
In his keynote address, the Executive Governor of Bayelsa state, Senator Douye Diri said education remains a priority of his administration even as he announced that there are only 250,000 out of school in Bayelsa, particularly in the ruler areas.
Governor Diri appealed to all Bayelsans to cooperate with his administration in the implementation of relevant laws on out-of-school children to help rid the state of out-of-school children.
He challenged the State Assembly to put in place a sound oversight mechanism to ensure that the relevant rules were implemented.
The Governor used the occasion to inform the Minister that Bayelsa state is up to date in its counterpart funding for Basic education up to 2022.