In a recent presentation of the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) 2022 survey on forced labor in Nigeria, Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Hon. Nkeiruka Onyejeocha, emphasized the crucial role of education in combating child labor. The Minister passionately stated that it is morally unacceptable to deny any child the basic right to learn.

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The ILO’s report, which revealed a distressing increase in child and forced labor in Nigeria, underscored the urgency of addressing this issue. Shockingly, the statistics revealed that over 62.9 million children between the ages of 5 and 17 in Nigeria are trapped in various forms of child labor. This alarming figure translates to a staggering 39.2 percent of Nigerian children being forced to work, with the agricultural sector being a significant contributor to this troubling trend.

During the presentation, Mrs. Abiola Victoria Arosanyin from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) presented a detailed breakdown of the child labor statistics, shedding light on the regions and demographics most affected. She stressed the critical need for advocacy support from the Minister regarding rural education and the implementation of National and State Action Plans to combat child labor. A grassroots approach focused on poverty alleviation was deemed the most effective strategy.

In response, Minister Onyejeocha firmly reiterated that education is a fundamental right that should be afforded to every child, irrespective of their background or circumstances. She highlighted the transformative power of education in shaping the future of individuals and society as a whole. The Minister emphasized that eradicating child labor must be a shared priority for all, including parents, and that education is the key to breaking this harmful cycle.

The Minister passionately expressed, “By prioritizing education, we can empower our youth to reach their full potential and create a better tomorrow for themselves and our nation. Let’s make every day a reminder to prioritize our children’s education and well-being.” She further acknowledged the devastating consequences of child labor and emphasized the moral imperative to combat it.

Minister Onyejeocha stressed the collective responsibility to ensure that every child receives the education they deserve, enabling them to thrive and create a brighter future for themselves and society at large. She called for concerted efforts to significantly reduce the number of out-of-school children, highlighting that it is our duty to secure a better tomorrow for all.

The Minister assured the team of the government’s commitment to improving access to education for all Nigerians, particularly in rural and disadvantaged areas. This commitment forms part of a broader effort to address the country’s educational challenges and provide every child with the opportunity to reach their full potential.

Minister Onyejeocha’s impassioned plea for prioritizing education and eradicating child labor resonates as a call to action. As a nation, Nigeria must unite to ensure that every child’s right to education is upheld, breaking the cycle of child labor and paving the way for a brighter future.