The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund, UNICEF has expressed concern over the increasing out-of-school population in Nigeria, stating that only 45 per cent of girls in northern Nigeria are enrolled in schools.
UNICEF said that poverty, early marriage and cultural beliefs were some of the factors that worsened the out-of-school children statistics in Nigeria, with the north accounting for 69 per cent of the 13.2 million out-of-school children.
A UNICEF Communications Specialist, Mr Geoffrey Njoku, stated this during a media conference held in Kano State to raise awareness for out-of-school children in the country.
Citing a Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey data report, Njoku said the North-East and the North-West states had a female primary attendance ratio of 44 per cent and 47 per cent, respectively.
“It means that more than half of primary school aged girls are; not in school and the average for both the North-East and North-West is; 45 per cent,” he said.
He also noted that the survey data showed that 69 per cent of the out-of-school children in Nigeria live in the northern states, while the North-East has the largest number population.
With this number, Nigeria accounts for more than one in five out-of-school children globally; and 45 per cent of out-of-school children in West Africa.
Within the huge number of out-of-school children, girls are in the majority especially in northern Nigeria. Gender is an important factor in the pattern of educational marginalisation. The dimensions to this problem are; that in Nigeria, the political will is weak and there is no full implementation; of the Universal Basic Education Act of 2004 and other education policies.
There are also poor learning outcomes complicated by uncommitted and absent teachers, overcrowded classrooms and a poor learning environment. Many parents and guardians see schooling as a waste of time as their children are; not learning – even to read and there is no link to livelihoods; and the desired improvement in the lives of their children.
Poverty-related reasons are; cited as the most important determining factors why children are not in school. Parents and children from poor households struggle to meet the demands; of direct and indirect costs of education,” he said.
Also, the Head, Child Right Information Bureau at the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, Mr Olumide Osayinpeju, said the Federal Government would continue to put infrastructure in place to address the situation.