A total of 265,000 children don’t have access to basic education in Bayelsa State and girls constitute sixty per cent of the figure.

This is according to Walton Liverpool, the Executive Secretary of the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB), who stated this in Yenagoa during the flag-off of a school enrolment drive to reduce the rate of out-of-school children in the state in partnership with the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF).

Liverpool said the campaign would take place across the eight council areas of Bayelsa, with the support of stakeholders to promote access to education for the girl-child.

He noted that teenage pregnancy compels the girl-child to drop out of school, a development that compelled UNICEF and the state to lay much emphasis on the girl-child in the campaign.

Azuka Menkiti, the UNICEF representative, stated that the United Nations agency was supporting the drive to reduce the out-of-school rate in 15 states, including Bayelsa.

She said UNICEF intervenes in education in three thematic areas of access, quality and governance through capacity building and funding support to benefitting states. She also urged girls to resist the pressure to indulge in sexual activities, which leads to unwanted teenage pregnancy that may abort the education of the girl-child.

Speaking on the need to encourage education for girls, she said: “As a mother, I will tell you as I also tell my daughters that all the things men tell you at this your age are all lies. There is time for everything, and this is the right time for you to remain in school and complete your education. I urge all of us to encourage our girls to remain in school and complete their primary and secondary education, as well as tertiary education because their future life is guaranteed by good education.

“To parents, the best investment for our children remains good education, and we want to work with Bayelsa government to change the narrative that teenage pregnancy is the obstacle to the education of girls in Bayelsa.”

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