While Nigeria’s population makes up only 2.8% of the world, 20% of the children not in school live in Nigeria. Education in Nigeria is especially lacking in the northern states, where more than 50% of the children are not in school. Although education is supposedly free and mandatory, the Nigerian government has long failed to provide its citizens with the tools to improve their education. The president of the country has recently made a commitment to prioritize teachers in Nigeria.
Unrest in the North Affects Schools
The northeastern Nigerian states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa, have been victims of significant violence from the Boko Haram insurgency, a terrorist group whose name translates to ‘Western Education is Forbidden.’ Currently, 800 schools in this region are closed and 500 more have been destroyed due to conflict. Furthermore, less than 50% of girls in the north are in school due to cultural practices and attitudes discouraging girls from receiving an education.
The Link Between Poverty, Population & Education
The lack of education in Nigeria has deep effects on the nation’s present condition and future direction. There is a close correlation between girls receiving less education and fertility rates soaring. In 2018, Nigeria’s total fertility rate was 5.4 children per woman. This rate is far higher than the global average of 2.5 and above the sub-Saharan African average of 4.7. Consequently, Nigeria is one of the most rapidly growing countries in the world, with a population of about 200 million people and an average age of 18. Furthermore, the population is projected to double to more than 400 million by 2050.
Although Nigeria is Africa’s biggest exporter of oil, its economy’s growth rate has stagnated since oil prices collapsed five years ago. In developing countries, when population growth overtakes economic growth, resources become scarce and the people suffer. Nigeria’s population growth rate of 2.6% is outpacing its economic growth rate of 2%, thus further perpetuating the already widespread poverty. In 2019, 82 million Nigerians lived below the poverty line.
A Commitment to Education in Nigeria
While past Nigerian leadership has failed to emphasize education or recognize it as a means to reduce poverty and provide opportunity, President Muhammadu Buhari has signaled a commitment to establishing education as the backbone of society and prioritize teachers in Nigeria. In order to strengthen education in Nigeria, the government has committed to guaranteeing employment for students graduating with a Bachelor’s of Education. President Buhari underlined the need to incentivize students to become teachers by providing fiscal stability to the profession. He believes that this will attract a higher quality and quantity of teachers, which will in turn improve the system as a whole.
Additionally, these graduates will receive a university stipend and a special teacher’s salary. The retirement age and duration of service will both be extended by five years as well. The effects of Nigeria’s new commitment to prioritize teachers in Nigeria and education remain to be seen but certainly is a step in the right direction for the country to progress out of poverty.
– Adrian Rufo