Nigeria’s minister of education has warned that parents who refuse to send their children to school will be prosecuted.
Adamu Adamu said criminalising parents would help reduce the number of children not in education.
Many parents complain they lack the money to send their children school and instead send them onto the streets and into markets to hawk items.
The BBC’s Jimeh Saleh says failure in the education system in recent years is due to a lack of government funding.
The United Nations children’s agency, Unicef, says Nigeria is one of the world’s worst countries for out-of-school children.
About 10.5 million of the country’s children aged 5-14 years are not in school, and only 61% of 6 to 11-year-olds regularly attend primary school, the body says.
Unicef estimates that 60% of Nigerian children not attending school live in the north of the country, parts of which have been wracked by Islamist insurgency.