Nigerian Diaspora has no shortage of high-achievers. From Achebe to Adichie, the country has been a prolific producer of noted writers, academics, scientists, and more.
In the UK, children of Nigerian immigrants out perform their white British peers. Meanwhile, in the United States, home to the second-largest Nigerian diaspora community in the world, Nigerians are; the country’s most highly-educated immigrants.
Despite a reputation for excellence abroad, children at home are being left behind. In 2017, Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai called on then-acting president, Yemi Osinbajo, to declare “an education state of emergency in Nigeria” in light of the urgent need for investment in the country’s educational sector.
With over; 12 million children out of school, Nigerian dispora is home to one of the largest numbers of out-of-school children in the world.
Yet Nigerian dispora also leads the field on a different front: it has the largest volume of remittances in Africa, as its industrious diaspora keeps earning and sending money home in ever increasing numbers.
Much has been said about the impact of remittances on the country – particularly in terms of investment in real estate
. A recent report from the global consulting agency, Dahlberg, also; explored how diaspora funds could be channelled towards investments in SMEs and other economic activities.
Less attention has; been paid, however, in the investment that the diaspora is already making in an area critical to the future of the nation:the education of Nigeria’s children
Informally, almost everyone who is sending or receiving money back will know a child or student whose fees are being paid or who is being helped in other ways – with books, uniforms, exam costs – to go to school: put simply, supporting the education of the extended family back home is a top priority of Nigerians abroad.
Our new research reveals the scale of that support. Analysis of household level data shows that diaspora remittances currently keep an estimated 200,000 children in the classroom.
It also shows that; children in families that receive remittances are 40% less likely to be out of school and NIGERIAN DIASPORA .
They will also; have more spent on their education and are less likely to be working in household chores, the family business or in other forms of work.
At an individual-level, this investment is transformative. Take Nsikak, a Nigerian nurse now living in Australia, for example. He has supported; the education of his brother and sister in Ikot Offiong, a village in Cross River State for almost a decade.
Thanks to his contributions, his sister Abasifreke, now aged 20, completed primary and secondary school and now attends; the University of Uyo, where she is training to be a chemistry teacher.
By making it easier to send money home, we can enable students like Abasifreke to reach their full potential.
Technology is making a difference. Digital disruption to the traditionally, cash-based remittance industry is driving costs down and freeing up more money to support diaspora causes at home.
Our estimate is that if all remittances were digital, an additional $825 million would be freed up for education across the globe. And it’s not just about costs.
Digitisation has meant that transfers are faster and can be tracked more easily. No more trips half-way across a city in the US, Europe or the UK, to send money from a bureau which; take several days to arrive or entrusting it to a friend of a friend to carry home, with all the attendant security risks.
This matters not just because children’s education is too valuable to be entrusted to such unreliable methods, but experience shows that; exam fees and school equipment often need to be paid at short-notice, not days or weeks later.
Almost one in four Sub-Saharan people reside in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country. By 2050, the United Nations estimates that Nigeria will be the third largest country in the world.
In order to cope with the current and future needs of the country, expanding access to education is an economic and social imperative. Leveraging the contributions of the diaspora, and potential of technology, must be a critical part of efforts to scale access to quality education.
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