The United Kingdom supports Nigerian girls’ education with 45 billion naira.
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has announced that the government of the United Kingdom (UK) has donated over $109 million dollars to support the education of girls and improvement in the livelihood of their parents in Nigeria. According to the official bank exchange rate, the amount is the equivalent of N45 billion Naira. The program is implemented under the Girls Education Project (GEP3), which commenced in 2012 in the six northern states of Bauchi, Katsina, Niger, Sokoto, Zamfara and Kano. The project will end in September 2022.
UNICEF says that despite the challenges of insecurity in the region, 1.3 million girls in primary schools have been enrolled in two northern states of Sokoto and Zamfara. Miriam Moreso, the Education Manager of UNICEF field office made this known at a media dialogue on girls education in Sokoto. She said that this was possible through the implementation of GEP3, which was funded by the United Kingdom agency, Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Fund Office (FCDO), formerly known as DFID.
Total number of children enrolled exceeds the target.
Moreso noted that the 1.3 million enrolled in primary and Integrated Quranic Schools (IQS) exceeded the target of one million in the six states since 2012. According to her, this was achieved through the community enrolment drives by School-Based Management Committees (SBMCs) and Mothers Associations (MAs), with support from states and local government areas. She lamented that education is seriously underfunded in Nigeria. She said that in 2018, only 7 percent of the national budget was allocated to education, far below the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)’s recommended 15 to 26 percent. In 2020, Nigeria allocated only 6.7 per cent of the nation’s budget to education.
She said, “Nigeria continues to have more out-of-school children than any other country globally. One in three children are out of school.” She added that the rate is declining but not in tandem with the population. Globally, she said 129 million girls are out of school, representing 32 million in primary school and 97 in secondary school. She also added that the completion rate for girls are lower in low-income countries such as Nigeria, where less than two-thirds of girls complete primary education and one-third complete lower secondary school.
Girls’ education transition rate between significant levels is low.
Moreso commented on the transition of girls from primary to secondary education and disclosed that about 1.9 million is lost between primary 1 and 6, while 1.4 million is lost between primary 6 and Junior Secondary School (JSS1). Chief of UNICEF Sokoto Field Office, Maryam Darwesh, revealed that to support efficient and effective governance in primary schools and Integrated Quranic Schools, 13,094 management committee members (5,353 of which are women) underwent relevant capacity development pieces of training in Sokoto and Zamfara.
She said that it was because the benefits gained from the phase 3 of GEP being considered that the sustainability strategy document was developed by both Sokoto and Zamfara states in June 2021 and was most recently updated in July 2022. She called on the states to ensure full implementation of the sustainability plan and urged them to leverage the soon-to-start budgeting process to capture the required state funding contributions for UNICEF-supported interventions and to provide strategic state resources for the sustainability to all gains obtained so far in the education sector from GEP3 and the partnership with UNICEF.
Teacher commended UNICEF for the GEP programme.
The head teacher of Ali Fodio Primary School, Bodinga, Sokoto State, Malam Abdullahi Abubakar, commended the UNICEF for the implementation of the GEP3 programme in his school, which he said has led to massive enrolment of girls and their retention in school. He told a team of journalists and UNICEF officials on a field trip to evaluate the impact of the project in his school that right now, some classes have more girls than boys. He called on the state and federal governments to ensure the sustainability of the project. He said that the cash transfer aspect of the program has helped immensely in retaining the pupils as well as in improving the economic well-being of the families of the pupils benefiting from the program.
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