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7.4m boys disengaged from education – UNICEF

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By Usman Oladimeji

About 10m Nigerian children were deprived of schooling in 2017/2018.

The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) report sheds light on a distressing reality, revealing that an estimated 7.4 million young boys in Nigeria are disengaged from the education system. Within the academic year 2017/2018, the number of Nigerian children deprived of schooling at the primary level reached around 10 million, and a significant share of this staggering figure corresponded to males, accounting for a substantial 62 percent of the total. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in a cautionary message, highlighted the potential repercussions of boys failing to attain fundamental education.

UNESCO said the consequences encompass a significant toll on their forthcoming career opportunities, income levels, and overall job satisfaction. The impact of this phenomenon goes beyond mere choices and behaviours, extending to the realm of men’s well-being, their societal involvement, and even familial judgments. Studies have revealed that men who receive a comprehensive education are more inclined to treat women and men with fairness, actively advocating for gender equality. Also, boys who have obtained a secondary level of education are more inclined to vehemently denounce acts of gender-based violence.

18.5 million children in the country are deprived of school.

Tackling the challenge of disengagement and disadvantages that boys face in education could have a transformative impact on gender equality, the mitigation of violence, and the safeguarding of opportunities for all individuals, according to UNESCO. Rahama Farah, the head of the UNICEF branch in Kano, revealed that within Nigeria’s educational crisis, a staggering 18.5 million children in the country are deprived of school, and shockingly, 10 million of them are girls. Farah expresses deep concern over these alarming figures during a media discussion centred on girls’ education in Kano. Most distressingly, a significant portion of these marginalized children hails from the northern region of Nigeria.

He expressed that this circumstance exacerbates gender disparity, as merely a quarter of girls hailing from impoverished, countryside regions manage to finish their education up until junior secondary school. According to UNESCO’s December 2023 findings, an astonishing 132 million young boys worldwide were deprived of education. It is remarkable to note that this number accounts for over half of the total out-of-school youth population and surpasses the 127 million out-of-school girls. UNESCO emphasized that the pursuit of providing quality education for everyone should not be viewed as a situation where one’s gain is another’s loss.

Equal education provides mutual advantages for both genders.

Moreover, the emphasis on attaining gender equality and parity necessitates equal attention towards both boys and girls. Prioritizing support for boys does not imply there is a disadvantage for girls, and vice versa. UNESCO claims that there are mutual advantages for both genders and society as a whole when it comes to providing equal educational opportunities. Studies have evidenced that girls face greater challenges in accessing education, particularly in Nigeria, and are more prone to being excluded from primary school compared to boys. On the other hand, boys are faced with a higher likelihood of repeating grades, experiencing academic stagnation, failing to complete their education, and not properly acquiring knowledge during their schooling years.

It was disclosed that a significant transformation in the gender gaps across different economic settings. In the past, the disengagement and dropout rates of boys were primarily a concern in affluent nations. However, this trend has now shifted, and numerous countries with lower to medium incomes are experiencing a reversal in these disparities. According to the report, there is a noticeable decline in boys’ participation, success, and academic achievements when compared to girls. In 130 nations, boys display a higher tendency to repeat primary school grades, while in 73 countries, they are more inclined to discontinue their education before reaching upper secondary level.

Related Article: 1 in 6 Nigerian children are not in school

At the tertiary level, there is a worldwide imbalance, with only 88 men enrolling for every 100 women. UNESCO’s unwavering commitment to equal opportunities for every child remains paramount. Emphasizing education as an undeniable birthright, the organization stresses its pivotal role in propelling economic progress and bolstering income levels. As per the ‘No Child Left Behind Scheme’ global report on boys, there is a concerning trend of boys falling behind in education. The report highlights that poverty and the necessity to work are significant factors that contribute to boys’ disengagement from school and subsequent dropout.

Related Link

UNICEF: Website

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