The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) has stated that there are about a 10.5million school children in Nigeria, even as the organisation warns of an impending education crisis.
UNICEF stated this, as the world commemorates the International Day of Education, welcoming the government’s pledge to increase Nigeria’s annual domestic education expenditure by 50 percent over the next two years.
This is as 7.2 percent of the N17 trillion 2022 budget has been allocated to the education sector. According to UNICEF, this is a step forward, stating it is an increase from 5.7 percent allocated for 2021, adding that there is still a long way to go to reach the internationally recommended benchmark.
UNICEF said that Nigeria’s education system can be transformed through adequate funding to ensure schools are safe; the application of gender-responsive policies, including recruitment of female teachers and improved facilities for girls; the creation of multiple and flexible learning pathways for students, such as digital and transferable skills learning; the integration of foundational numeracy and literacy in Qur’anic schools; and teacher training in the latest methodologies.
According to the UNICEF's Representative in Nigeria, Peter Hawkins “The Nigerian Government has committed to increasing funding for education, which is a very important step, far too many Nigerian children today are not in school and for those who are, far too many are not getting a solid education that can translate into good prospects for their futures,”
"At least 10.5 million children are out of school in Nigeria – the highest rate in the world. A full one-third of Nigerian children are not in school, and one in five out-of-school children in the world is Nigerian.
"It is estimated that 35 per cent of Nigerian children who attend primary school do not go on to attend secondary school. Half of all Nigerian children did not attend secondary school in 2021.
Speaking further, Hawkins noted that the education crisis in Nigeria is affecting children across the country, as some children are more likely to be affected than others.
These he disclosed to include, girls, children with disabilities, children from the poorest households, in street situations or affected by displacement or emergencies, and children in geographically distant areas are disproportionately affected by the education crisis.
In 2021, there were 25 attacks on schools. 1,440 children were abducted, and 16 children were killed. In March 2021, no fewer than 618 schools were closed in six northern states (Sokoto, Zamfara, Kano, Katsina, Niger, and Yobe) over the fear of attack and abduction of pupils and members of staff. The closure of schools in these states significantly contributed to learning losses for over two months.
“Millions of Nigerian children have never set foot in a classroom and this is a travesty. Perhaps equally tragic is the high number of children who make it into a classroom, but never make the transition from primary school to secondary school, thereby cutting off their chances for a secure future.
“As we celebrate the International Day of Education today amid concerns in much of the world about the impact of COVID-19 on education, we must take a close look at what is happening to our children in Nigeria, and the opportunities they are missing out on when they lack education. We need to look towards communities leaders, parents, teachers and caregivers and together, find the best strategies to get ensure that all children enrol on school, have access to continuous learning and ensure they emerge with quality skills that equip them for a prosperous future.”
“We need to especially ensure that girls have access to learning so they can receive an education that will begin to address issues of gender inequality. All girls have much to offer to find solutions to Nigeria’s challenges and we have to nurture their creativity and innovation.”
“We also need to ensure that children are safe when they are in school no child should be afraid to enter a classroom afraid their school might be attacked or that they will be kidnapped. And no parent should fear sending their children to school.
“All Nigerian children deserve a fighting chance – no matter who they are or where they are. And this must include education. It is not only their right – it is the smartest and best way to secure the future of Nigeria as a whole,” he said.
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