Editorial

Too many school drop-outs

It is a shame that no statistics exist to back the claim that there is uncomfortable rise in the number of school drop-outs in Imo state, a state in which education was clearly its largest industry. The swarm of school-age children selling this and that on the streets is evidence that many pupils and students are out of school. The number would be quite high compared with the number in schools. Imo indeed is in danger of soon having more people out of school than in school. Perhaps in future going to school in Imo will be out of fashion. God forbid. But it can happen at the rate we are going. And government’s attention must be drawn to it.
We see it as a short and long term socio-economic tragedy that the future generation may in large numbers be un-educated. We stand to pay a huge price for this.
We owe this to the prevailing economic depression and not to the unwillingness of the children and adolescents to go to school. The fact is that the sponsors, guardians and parents cannot just afford it.
Though schooling is said to be free, the hidden costs are still high and beyond what the parents can pay, coupled with the fact that incomes have shriveled. Feeding in homes has become very difficult, making it impossible for parents to exercise the necessary control over their children. A child is more a resource to the society than his family.
For that reason, the government cannot have such a large and growing uneducated and illiterate population and do nothing visibly about it.
The ministry of education must engage experts who will map out what happens, to soak up all the school drop-outs back into our empty class rooms. An educated citizenry will guarantee a productive and healthy work force that would lift the state out of poverty. Otherwise we will continue to have an expanding cohort of jobless, idle and frustrated youth who will create political and social unrest. We will continue to have rampaging hordes of young people and there will be plenty of reason to fear the worst. All Imo children must be in school without exception as a New Year resolution of government. School attendance in Imo should be 100%. It can be done. Yes we can do it. That’s all we are saying!

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