As part of efforts to improve access to education among rural and indigent girls, the Plateau State Government has flagged off the Adolescent Girls Initiative for Learning and Empowerment (AGILE).
The State Governor Simon Lalong at the flag off on Friday in Jos the state capital disclosed that the programme is in partnership with World Bank and will imclude Conditional Cash Transfer to facilitate the education of girls from poor backgrounds.
Lalong said this was initiated to encourage and restore hope to girls who have dropped out of school as a result of lack funds for fees, cultural hindrances to education, or non-availability of schools in their immediate communities.
He said high value is placed on the girl-child education hence the commitment in seeing to the successful launching of the conditional cash transfer and school improvement grant.
The Governor noted that over the past seven years, his administration has made frantic efforts in providing safe and accessible learning spaces, fostering an enabling environment for girls, and in the recent past, signed into law bills passed by the Plateau State House of Assembly to protect girls, children, womanhood and the vulnerable in general from molestations of any kind.
"The World Bank in collaboration with the State and Federal Government intervention facilitated this counterpart arrangement which involves large expansion in infrastructure which is intended to support adolescent girls in Junior and Senior Secondary Schools to enjoy special scholarship programmes.
"The programme is also meant to provide conducive learning environment for the girls in the pursuance of their education career."
While commending the World Bank for extending this timely funding partnership to Plateau State, Lalong said the entire project when fully completed will change the face of education in Plateau State and give the girl child a brighter future.
The State, he said, will eventually benefit from a total sum of $3,972,000 dollars in scholarship and infrastructural expansion.
The Governor also warned against the abuse of the funds.
"I wish to warn all those that will benefit from the programme and those who shall be responsible for implementation that we shall not tolerate any act of corruption, manipulation and abuse in this journey.
"I will personally carry out my surveillance on the implementation through anonymous channels that will report directly to me about the progress of the project. Anyone found in breach will not be spared."
Plateau State Commissioner for Secondary Education Elizabeth Wapmuk disclosed that the first tranche of the disbursement covers nine selected Local Governments with funds to be disbursed for School Improvement Grant, and Conditional Cash Transfer to adolescent girls of between 10 and 20 years in both junior and secondary schools.
Under the Schools Improvement Grant, various public secondary schools across the State will get between three to six million naira to carry out critical interventions that address the challenges of the girl child in order to enable them stay and complete their studies.
She appealed to the beneficiaries to use this opportunity to make their families proud, register Plateau State in the map of successful States in the utilisation of the intervention, and also put Nigeria in the map of very serious and committed nations so that others can enjoy similar gesture in the future.
State Project Coordinator Saje Joseph Adeh said over N828 million will be given to 309 Junior and Senior Secondary Schools for the Schools Improvement Grants while over N183 million will be accessed by 18,036 students in 618 schools across the entire State for the Conditional Cash Transfer.
He explained that the selection of the benefitting Local Governments and schools is carried out with a strong focus on areas with low Secondary transition rates for girls from the poorest households.