UNICEF report on the poor state of affairs with our primary education sector


Please read in conjunction with this article posted earlier African population problems

Nigeria’s population growth has put pressure on the country’s resources, public ser-vices and infrastructure. With children under 15 years of age accounting for 45 per cent of the 171 million population, the burden on education has become overwhelming.

Primary school enrolment has increased in recent years, but net attendance is only about 70 per cent, but Nigeria still has 10.5 million out-of-school children – the world’s highest number. Sixty per cent of those children are in northern Nigeria.

About 60 per cent of out-of-school children are girls. Many of those who do enroll drop out early. Low perceptions of the value of education for girls and early marriages are among the reasons. Some northern states have laws requiring education of girls and prohibiting their withdrawal from school.

Girls’ primary school attendance has been improving, but this has not been the case for girls from the poorest households.

Increased enrolment rates have created challenges in ensuring quality education, as re-sources are spread more thinly. It is not rare to see cases where there are 100 pupils for one teacher, or where students learn under trees because of a lack of classrooms.In north-eastern Nigeria, conflict has deprived many children of access to education. Teachers have been killed and schools burned down or closed for security reasons.

UNICEF supports efforts to increase equitable access to quality basic education and to improve learning achievements. Special emphasis is given to girls’ education.The Education Programme focuses on three main areas:
Strengthening Education Systems

UNICEF helps improve planning, budgeting and monitoring, and assess learning outcomes and teacher competency. It also helps build the capacity of School Based Management Committees (SBMC).

Improved and equitable access to quality basic education

UNICEF supports early childhood development in disadvantaged communities, and helps traditional Koranic schools adopt a broader curriculum. Cash transfers are being piloted in Sokoto and Niger states to help families afford the cost of sending girls to schools, while scholarship incentives help attract qualified female teachers to rural schools.

Improved quality of teaching and learning outcome

UNICEF helps teachers improve their skills, promotes quality standards for child-friendly schooling, and supports capacity building for emergency preparedness and response.

Read features and press releases related to quality basic education in Nigeria: Education is key: Malala visits schoolgirls displaced by the Boko Haram crisis in northeast Nigeria

18 July, 2017 – Nobel Peace Prize winner and international education activist Malala Yousafzai met on Tuesday with girls displaced by the Boko Haram crisis in northeast Nigeria. Malala visits Nigeria to draw attention to education crisis

18 July 2017 – During her visit to Nigeria, education activist Malala Yousafzai met today with girls displaced by the Boko Haram crisis. ‘In this crisis sometimes education really is the frontline ’

28 Mar 2017-Here in northeast Nigeria, we have a programme called Education in Emergencies that we’re working on with the European Union. UNICEF supports 16 schools in Yobe state and 17 in Borno state but the project is helping children across the region. In northeast Nigeria, how education is helping Hadiza and Mutsapha look to the future

February 2017 – Mustapha loves meeting his friends for a quick game of soccer before class starts in the camp where he lives with what is left of his family. Norway gives US$11.5 million for education in northeast Nigeria and support for women and girls held by Boko Haram

ABUJA, 16 December 2016 – The Government of Norway has donated $11.5 million, to improve basic education and support girls and women who have been victims of sexual violence by Boko Haram in the conflict-affected northeast Nigerian states. In Nigeria, a family reunion and a new school

MAIDUGURI, Nigeria, 13 January 2016 – School holidays were badly timed for 15-year-old Peter, who last month finally managed to enroll in school in Maiduguri, in north-east Nigeria – just six days before the end of the term. But all the same, this shy… Koranic schools in Nigeria join the drive for universal education

15 January 2015 – Millions of children in northern Nigeria are not receiving a formal education. One way UNICEF is addressing the issue is to help traditional Koranic schools like Maiunguwa Shuaibu’s include basic subjects such as English and maths. In northern Nigeria, a little cash goes a long way towards getting girls to school

24 October 2014 – Since their father died a few years ago, Aisha and Asmau have had to contribute to their family’s income, hawking by the roadside. The two girls live in a single-room mud and tin hut with their younger brother,mother and grandmother. Cash programme for girls to go to school launched in Sokoto State

WURNO, SOKOTO, Nigeria, 22 September 2014 – Thousands of girls in northern Nigeria are set to receive cash to pay for textbooks and other school-related costs, as part of a UNICEF-supported girls' education programme – launched in Sokoto Monday. Out of school and out of luck New Reports show that many will never set foot in a classroom

DAKAR/NAIROBI, 16 June 2014 – Despite major progress over the past decade, sub-Saharan Africa is still home to more than half of all the out-of-school children of primary school-age in the world. Moreover, millions who are in school are learning little Insecurity threatens gains in girls’ education

Abuja- 15 June 2014 – The theme of this year’s Day of the African Child – “A child friendly, quality, free and compulsory education for all children in Africa” – offers us an opportunity to reflect on the situation of education in Nigeria. In Nigeria, bringing the message of education for all

13 June 2014 – Kasimu Liman Toro beams with pride as his 12-year-old daughter, Nailatu, talks about her dream: One day, she will become a doctor.  


Publications, fact sheets and studies related to quality basic education in Nigeria: Evaluability Assessment Report of UNICEF Nigeria/s Education Project Phase 3 Cash Transfer Programme in Niger and Sokoto States

2016 – This Impact Evaluation of Girls’ Education Project Phase 3 Cash Transfer Programme (CTP) in Niger and Sokoto States in order to gain an unbiased insight into how the programme was implemented, identify the impacts achieved, and learn lessons… Information sheet: Girls' Education

2007 – Information about Girls' Education in Nigeria, including the benefits of girls' education, barriers to girls'education and UNICEF's response to accelerating Girls' Education in Nigeria. National School Health Policy

2006 – The provisions of this document are designed to put in place a national framework for the formulation, co-ordination, implementation and effective monitoring and evaluation of School Health Programme, including the roles of different stakeholders. Implementation Guidelines on National School Health Programme

2006 – The aim of the Implementation Guidelines on National School Health Programme is to promote a healthy learning school environment in Nigeria.  

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