Nigeria makes up 45 percent of the increasing number of out-of-school children in West Africa, according to the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF)
The UNICEF report noted that the northern states have an average of 31 percent of children aged between six and 14 years out of school. The South has 11 percent. The report stated that of the 13.2 million out-of-school children in Nigeria, 7.9 million (or 69 percent) are in the northern states.
Mr. Geoffrey Njoku, a UNICEF Communication Specialist explored the role of gender in the pattern of educational marginalization in his paper delivered at a media dialogue promoting equity for children
The paper was titled ‘Gaps in education access in Nigeria: A situation analysis and what UNICEF is doing,’ it cited poor implementations of policies and laws as reasons for the dismal state of the educational system.
‘In Nigeria, weak political will exist to fully and effectively implement the Universal Basic Education Act of 2004 and other education policies. The recent security threats to schooling in the North East as well as other parts of Nigeria has contributed significantly to the low demand for and access to education especially for girls,’ it said.
Njoku noted that early marriage, poor learning outcomes, and poverty all contribute to the increased number of out-of-school children. Poverty was singled out as the one most impactful factor for children being out of school.
‘Parents and children from poor households struggle to meet the demands of direct and indirect costs of education. If parents had money, they would prioritise the education of their sons over daughters for socio-cultural reasons.
‘In many parts of Nigeria, early marriage is still a common traditional practice, which negatively impacts on girls’ enrolment and retention in school. Some cultural practices and beliefs also keep children out of school and deny them the right to education,’ the report added.