A lot of African countries have been working hard to improve children’s access to basic education, but there’s still a lot left to be done. 32.6 million children of primary-school age and 25.7 million adolescents are still not going to school in sub-Saharan Africa. But worse, at over 10.5 million, Nigeria has the highest number of children out of school in the world.
According to UNICEF, Nigeria’s population growth has put pressure on the country’s resources, public services and infrastructure. With children under the age of 15 accounting for 45% of the 171 million population, the burden on education has become overwhelming.
And while primary school enrolment has increased in recent years, net attendance is only about 70% — which translates to Nigeria having over 10.5 million out-of-school children. 60% of those children are in northern Nigeria.
Not to mention that the increased enrolment rates have created challenges in ensuring quality education, as resources 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.
Students writing exams in a government secondary school in Nigeria (Photo: Vanguard)
The Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, in January, claimed that the number of out-of-school kids in Nigeria dropped from 10.5 million to 8.6 million in the last three years:
"When President Buhari came into power in 2015, UNICEF said out-of-school children in Nigeria was about 10.5 million.
But I want to tell Nigerians that with the effort of this president, especially with the school feeding programme, it dropped from 10.5 million to 8.6 million as at last year."
That's untrue. and we need to face the fact that the Nigerian education system has undoubtedly failed millions of children. 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.
It's evident that the government cannot fix the educational sector alone, international and private intervention is urgently needed.
Belongings left behind when the students fled for their lives during a Boko Haram attack (Photo: Sahara Reporters)
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