Known as the continent’s giant, Nigeria is also at the center of the global learning crisis. According to the World Bank Group’s Human Capital Index, a child in Nigeria today is expected to spend eight years at school, yet when compared with actual learning – the results show an average learning of only 4.25 years – half what would be expected.
A girl in Nigeria has a 40% chance of getting married by the age of 15 and is likely to become a mother before she reaches 17.
Basic education is free, yet parents are paying high fees for school registration, books and Parent Teacher Associations which represent a huge burden for vulnerable families. As a consequence, parents often prioritise the educations of their sons over their daughters.
Educating and empowering girls is the closest to having a silver bullet in the fight against high fertility, high maternal and child mortality, and inequality.
Data show the solution is simple; keep girls in school and there will be fewer adolescent girls getting married, less teenage pregnancies, and more healthy mothers and babies. Hence a multi-sectoral and long-term approach is critical for human capital development.
As part of this effort, the World Bank has committed to work with the government and is preparing the “Adolescent Girls Initiative for Learning and Empowerment” project, which will support improvement in access to quality secondary education, and girls’ empowerment with market relevant skills and reproductive health education.
Nigeria has the youngest population on the continent, with more than 40 million adolescent boys and girls. This number will double by 2050. This means that the country will need to ramp up its health and education services and be able to equip young people with the right skills and provide enough jobs for the next generations.
Many girls travel a long way on dangerous roads to reach school and many also have to stay in boarding schools far from home if they want to continue their education. The threat of being kidnapped or violently harassed is a reality for many girls and parents are concerned.
Girls in Nigeria are rising and want an opportunity to fulfill their dreams and aspiration for a better future. Some Nigerian states have piloted some innovations to tackle learning poverty. As part of a larger education program, Edo state is using technology to deliver scripted lesson plans to teachers, track teacher attendance, and provide timely feedback to improve teaching. Kaduna state was also able to improve teachers’ performance.
An African proverb says, “If you educate a man you educate an individual, if you educate a woman you educate a nation”. For many development practitioners and World Bank experts, educating girls may be Nigeria’s best hope for a prosperous future. (Source: Relief Web Intl.)