More than 100 homeless children living in slums along the Lagos coastline have received the support of the Destiny Trust to return to the classroom as Lagos schools open for the 2017/2018 academic year. The children were profiled during the Trust’s education outreach to a slum along Elegushi Beach, Lagos on Saturday, 9th September, 2017.
Children in the community were profiled in three categories: those who are of school age and have never been to school, those who were in school and have dropped out and those still in school but who need help to resume when school starts for the new academic year. Essential school needs like bags, books, pens and other academic materials were thereafter given to all the children. By this intervention, children in Aboki Estate were empowered to return to school while those not covered by the outreach will be reached in subsequent days.
Speaking on why the outreach focuses on homeless children, Mr. Abimbola Ojenike, Coordinator at The Destiny Trust stated that homeless children have peculiar difficulty in taking advantage of the free education policy of government. “Homeless families in urban centres have little motivation to send their children to school, even if education is said to be free, because they are never sure of how long they will live in any location. When their settlement is demolished, they relocate without preparation and under the most difficult circumstances. The new location may also not be in the vicinity of their schools. They feel a great sense of loss which diminishes interest in schooling after repeated experiences. This is one of the reasons we have an increasing army of children of school age who just roam the streets during school hours”. He added that, “a comprehensive approach to address this problem is for Nigeria to take seriously the need to create inclusive and sustainable cities where the housing needs of the urban poor are met. With this, children can have a safe and stable environment to live, grow and learn”.
Although the Trust had targeted 100 children for education support, more than 310 children were profiled in a single slum including teenagers who are already significantly above primary school entry age.
The outreach is critical to the Foundation’s interventions which specifically address the needs of abused, neglected and homeless children through an integrated range of assistance; including provision of care, education and empowerment to homeless children. Currently, at the Destiny Trust, children who are either orphaned or are homeless and without any responsible guardian are admitted into a programme which provides shelter, daily feeding, healthcare, education and all the basic needs. The Trust currently runs a learning and rehabilitation centre for street children at Bogije, Ibeju-Lekki, Lagos. The school enrolment and back-to-school drive only caters to other homeless children who cannot be taken into the Trust’s shelter but who nonetheless require assistance. The long term plan of the Trust is to establish a purpose-built residential school and vocational centre to support 100 rehabilitated children per time and to replicate this in all Nigerian cities with a significant urban poor population, starting from Lagos.
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