Mrs Rosemary Hua, the Coordinator, First Step Action for Children, said the NGO was sponsoring 4,600 children who were victims of HIV/AIDS in various schools in Benue and Nasarawa states.
Hua told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Saturday in Makurdi that some of the children were orphans living with the virus.
She said: “we started this assistance in 2011 and the numbers of beneficiaries kept on increasing every year.
“We have also enrolled vulnerable children in various schools and offered preventive healthcare services, psychological, and financial support to their parents where necessary.
“Our primary aim is to bridge the gap between urban and rural communities through the establishment of Early Child Care Centres in areas where schools are not handily accessible for children.
“We intend to build a solid foundation for basic education by making the environment of education conducive for the children to learn.’’
Hua said that most of the beneficiaries were those whose parents had died of HIV/AIDS or living with the virus in rural communities.
The coordinator said the foundation took over the sponsorship of the children’s education to give them a new lease of life and re-integrate them into the society.
She said that majority of the children were already being stigmatised by their relatives and the society, owing to the circumstances in which their parents died.
Hua urged the public to stop stigmatising those living with the condition, adding that they did not intentionally choose to live with the virus.
She appealed to the public to accept persons living with HIV/AIDS in the society, saying that it would prevent further spread of the life-threatening virus.
She expressed regret that several communities in Agatu, Ado, and Gewer West Local Government Areas among others in Benue state did not have access to education.
Hua, a former UNICEF Educational Desk Officer in the state, appealed to the Benue Government and the Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT) to resolve their differences to save the primary school system.
NAN reports that members of the NUT in public primary schools in the state had been on indefinite strike in the last six months.
The strike, according to the union, is to demand for the implementation of the N18, 000 minimum wages for its members.
Hua urged parties to the crisis to shift their positions to end the strike, adding that the best way to resolve such crisis was to come to the round table.
“Primary school education is important, and it is the basic foundation of education in any society.
“The governor is at fix on what to do. Children under the Child right Act have the right to sue the government for stopping their education,” she said.
She chided teachers especially those in rural areas for abandoning their duties for other business while still collecting salaries.
The retired Deputy Director of Education disclosed that over 8 million school age children were out of school in Nigeria.
“Nigeria is yet to achieve most of the MDGs Education Goals.
“Today, we have over 8 million school age children in Nigeria who are out of school for no fault of theirs,’’ she said. (NAN)
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