ILO-ACCEL renovates Oke Agunla Community School, enrolls 110 children at risk of child labour
“The ACCEL Project supported the enrolment and re-enrolment in school, of 110 children at risk of child labour in Oke Agunla."
In its commitment to addressing the root causes of child labour and accelerating its elimination in Nigeria through targeted actions in the Cocoa and Artisanal Small scale Gold Mining (ASGM) supply chains, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) under the Accelerating Action for the Elimination of Child Labour in Supply Chains in Africa (ACCEL Africa) project, has completed the renovation of Oke Agunla Community School, Ondo State, and enrolled in school, a total of 110 children at risk of child labour in the community.
“Today is a significant show of the importance of education in the elimination of child labour as emphasised in the ILO Convention 182, on the elimination of the worst forms of child labour,” said the Director of the ILO Abuja Country Office for Liberia, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Nigeria, and Liaison office for ECOWAS, Ms. Vanessa Phala, at the handover of the newly renovated L. A. Primary School, Oke Agunla in Ondo State, on 9th March 2023.
Phala noted that nearly 28 per cent of children aged 5 to 11 years, and 35 per cent of children aged 12 to 14 years in child labour were out of school. In Nigeria, according to the last National modular child labour survey country report, there are not less than 15 million children working children, with about 6 million in child labour and half the number trapped in hazardous work.
“The impact of this indecent exposure of our children to unfair labour practices is visible in our collective safety and development, as out of school children are vulnerable to the negative influences of criminals who take advantage of their innocence to sustain criminal activities from one generation to the next.” She acknowledged.
On the reason behind the rehabilitation of the school under the ACCEL Africa project funded by the Government of the Netherlands, the Director explained: “The ACCEL Project supported the enrolment and re-enrolment in school, of 110 children at risk of child labour in Oke Agunla. These children have been provided with back-to-school kits (school bags, textbooks, uniforms, notebooks, sandals, & socks) and we are recording increased interest to attend school. However, this interest in school was dampened by the inadequate situation of the community primary school. It is for this reason that the project decided to contribute to the renovation of this school, to foster school attendance and increase academic performances for the children.”
Phala expressed hope that the children of Oke-Agunla would grow up to be the leaders their village desired, as well as the citizens of whom their country could be proud.
Representing the Ondo State Government, the Coordinator of Ondo State Operations Coordinating Unit, Mr Olaoluwa Bankole, assured that the government would complement the kind gestures of ILO-ACCEL by addressing the problem of staff shortage in the school.
He expressed the appreciation of the Ondo State Government to ILO-ACCEL Africa for the tremendous support to quality education in the state by renovating the Oke Agunla Community School, Ondo State.
Speaking, the Regent of Oke Agunla, Her Royal Majesty, Olufunmilayo Olowookere, expressed her deep appreciation to ILO Abuja and ACCEL Africa for the honour bestowed upon the community through renovation of the community school by getting the children back to school and reducing cases of child labour and out-of-school children in the Oke Agunla community.
The L. A. Primary School, Oke Agunla, Ondo State, was established in 1955 and has remained the only school in the community to date. However, years of neglect have led to increasing deterioration of the school building, with all the classrooms, except one, without a roof. In no time, parents withdrew their children from the school as the only available classroom for teaching and learning also had leaky roofs and was overcrowded.
Representing the Hon. Minister off Labour and Employment, the Director of Inspectorate, Mrs. Olaolu Olaitan, reiterated that Child Labour is a menace that the Federal Government has continued to fight with the support of ILO and the Government of the Netherlands, through the ACCEL Africa Project.
She encouraged the pupils of the school and members of Oke Agunla community to make good use of the opportunity presented by the newly renovated school, so that their future would indeed be great.
The Head Teacher of the school, Pastor Bello Ayodele, disclosed that the enrolment figure of the school increased after the renovation of six classrooms and eight toilets facilities in the school premises.