Niger is a Western African country with a population of more than 18 million people. Of those 18 million people, the average person is 15 years old. With the majority of the population being of schooling age, education in Niger has a large opponent: labor. The following is a list of facts concerning education in Niger.
- The adult literacy rate in Niger was at a mere 15.5 percent in 2012 (the most recent data collection). The world average for adult literacy currently lies at 92 percent. This means Niger is 76.5 percent lower than the global average for this statistic. This statistic includes all individuals 15 years and older in the adult population.
- Women and men are unequally educated. While Niger has the lowest literacy rates in the world, the country’s women are even more disadvantaged. As of 2012, only nine percent of Nigerien women were literate compared to 23 percent for men. The global percentage of literate women is 89 percent.
- On average, each teacher is responsible for 36 students. At 36 students per teacher, Niger has one of the highest pupil-teacher ratios in the world. For comparison, the U.S. has an average of 14 students per teacher.
- Only 50 percent of primary school teachers in Niger have reached minimum training requirements. When teachers have not reached minimum training standards set by the Nigerien government, they are less likely to be able to be effective in the classroom. This is only compounded by the country’s high pupil-teacher ratio.
- Only 61 percent of Nigeriens attend primary school. With a global average of 89 percent enrollment, Niger is lacking in this category. Additionally, this statistic leads the way for low school attendance in later years. In fact, more than 30 percent of the Nigerien children who attend primary school eventually drop out.
- Niger has an education index of .20. The education index is a statistic from the U.N. which is calculated using the mean number of years of schooling and the expected number of years of schooling. An education index of .20 places Niger at the bottom of all 187 countries with available data.
- As of 2014, Niger put 6.8 percent of its total GDP towards education. In 2010, Niger put a relatively low 3.7 percent of its GDP toward education. Since then, Niger has been increasing spending on education. The country currently puts a higher percentage of its GDP toward education than the world average (4.5 percent) and even the U.S. (5.2 percent).
- Organizations are working to improve education in Niger. One organization, RAIN for the Sahel and Sahara, provides women mentors to at-risk girls to ensure success in school. Additionally, the organization creates community market gardens that allow for economic stability and allow girls to focus on school rather than working.
Nigerian education needs substantial help. Unfortunately, many of the issues stem from financial instability as well as an enduring belief that women should stay at home, marry and care for children.
Though the problem with education in Niger is complex, mentoring and guidance services by influential organizations can be part of the solution. Through these programs, Nigerian men and women can learn the value of education and benefit the country as a whole.
– Weston Northrop