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Nigeria
Like in many developing nations, the fight for girls’ education in Nigeria has been an ongoing battle against poverty, the costs of schooling and long-held notions of the unimportance of educating girls. To understand the progress that has been made and the struggles that persist in Nigeria, here’s what you need to know:

Five Facts About Girls’ Education in Nigeria

  1. Enrollment and Completion of Primary School Improving. Although Nigeria continues to face struggles getting its young females to enter and remain in school, the nation has made considerable progress in recent years. According to the World Bank’s Education Data, the number of girls enrolled in primary school increased from 79 percent to 92.3 percent between 2008 and 2013. Enrollment of boys likewise rose, from 89 to 95.2 percent, continuing to remain slightly higher than that of girls. In addition, rates of primary school completion are also on the rise. In 2008, 64.1 percent of girls (while, by comparison, 75.3 percent of boys) completed primary school; in 2010, those numbers had risen to 68.9 and 78.4 percent, respectively. Despite progress, there is still considerable room for improving girls’ education in Nigeria — especially regarding school retention. In fact, a significant portion of girls enrolled in primary school are not completing it.
  2. Financing Education. Officially, education is free and mandatory for all children in Nigeria, both boys and girls, between the ages of six and 15. That being said, Adamu Hussaini, Nigeria’s Secretary of Education, said in 2017 that an estimated 10.5 million kids were either not enrolled in or not regularly attending school. Many schools, especially rural ones, continue to charge unofficial school fees. The reasons for not attending school for girls range from ideological beliefs about the unimportance of education for females to being unable to afford the unofficial school fees. Beliefs persist that girls’ education in Nigeria is unimportant. Many who are willing to pay school fees for their sons would rather keep their daughters at home and working. However, eliminating these unofficial fees can be one of the easiest ways to increase female enrollment and attendance. Groups like the Global Partnership for Education and the Peace Corps offer scholarships, paying the school fees for a girl whose parents promise to let her complete her mandated 10 years of education.
  3. The Role of Mentorship. The importance of mentorship and having female role models should not be underestimated. As more women pursue higher education and enter careers, younger girls will have role models to show them that higher education is attainable for females. Also, these role models will demonstrate that pursuing education opens doors to opportunities otherwise forever unavailable to girls. Many schools in Nigeria hoping to increase female attendance have begun peer mentorship programs in which older girls connect with younger ones, giving the former an immediate sense of meaning for their education (helping younger kids) and the latter both academic and social role models to hopefully encourage them to keep coming to school.
  4. Women at Nigeria’s Universities. Increased participation of women in the education sector is also visible at the university level — when Nigeria gained independence in 1960, only 7.7 percent of Nigeria’s college students were female. By 2001, that number had skyrocketed to 41.7 percent and it continues to rise. In 2009, 45 percent of all university students in Nigeria were female.
  5. Societal Benefits of Educating Women. Levels of female education correlate directly with improved health and an overall increased quality of life. Educated women are more likely to seek proper medical care both for themselves — especially maternal care — and their children. Likewise, higher rates of female education correspond with lower HIV and STD rates. Women also are less likely to get married or give birth as teenagers if pursuing an education. The benefits of extending education to women reach not only those specific women, but society as a whole. Many experts agree that focusing on women’s education is one of the best investments a developing nation can make, for female education rates are directly correlated with national economic growth. Educated women are more likely to hold stable jobs, less likely to be in poverty, and more likely to contribute to the overall economy.

Strides Since Independence

Girls’ education in Nigeria has made tremendous strides during the 60 years since Nigeria gained independence. More girls than ever are attending and completing primary school as well as pursuing higher education. But the fight for education equity in Nigeria is not over.

By continuing to advocate for the importance of girls’ education, encourage older educated women to act as role models for younger generations and help finance girls’ education, Nigeria can and will reap the benefits associated with girls’ education.

– Abigail Dunn
Photo: Flickr

5 Nonprofits Helping Women and Girls in Nigeria

Traditional religious and cultural beliefs have hindered the growth and development of women and girls in Nigeria. Often faced with opposition, this particular demographic does not have any support. As the economy of Nigeria continues to worsen, many programs that aid women and girls are likely to be cut. However, most remain strong and continue to provide assistance to Nigerian females through various institutions. These are five nonprofits helping women and girls in Nigeria.

Kudirat Initiative for Democracy

Based in Lagos, Nigeria, Kudirat Initiative for Democracy (KIND) works on projects focused on eliminating barriers for women’s public participation in social, economic and political development and ending violence against women.

KIND is just one of the many nonprofits helping women and girls in Nigeria by providing them with the information and skills needed to take part as service leaders at all levels of society.

One of KIND’s leadership programs, Kudra, is offered at higher institutions of learning in Nigeria. This program works with young women at universities, supplying them with leadership tools and life-building skills. These young women are encouraged to engage in changing their communities through community engagement, building businesses and mentoring others, thereby boosting the development of a generation of women leaders in Nigeria.

Wellbeing Foundation Africa

The Wellbeing Foundation Africa is a maternal, newborn and child health group in Africa, noted for being one of the first established nonprofits in Nigeria and the backbone of the larger Wellbeing Group.

Through strategic collaboration with preeminent global providers of maternal and child health products, with the hopes of sealing the cracks in health infrastructure, Wellbeing Universal Health organizes the expedition and accessibility of life-saving supplies to expectant and new mothers in Africa.

Working to Advance Science and Technology Education for African Women (WAAW Foundation)

Founded in 2007, WAAW Foundation is an international organization that works to enhance the pipeline of African women entering the science and technology workforce.

WAAW Foundation’s STEM strategy underlines how the use of computer science, technology and programming can be used to solve the energy and clean water crisis occurring in Africa through the use of an integrated inquiry-based learning experience.

They are able to give girls an opportunity to seek STEM training while also introducing them to technologies that use available resources to solve massive issues in their own local communities.

Women in Management, Business and Public Service (WIMBIZ)

WIMBIZ is a Nigerian nonprofit created by individuals who recognized a major issue of few women in leadership roles in workplaces and businesses.

This organization helps women manage the many conflicts they face in the workplace by motivating them to achieve their potential and be meaningful contributors to economic development. Its goal is to increase the success rate of women entrepreneurs and progressing the number of women in senior levels at corporations and empowering women to secure leadership positions in management, businesses and public service positions.

Stand to End Rape Initiative

Stand to End Rape Initiative is a youth-led nonprofit organization advocating against sexual assault by offering prevention methods and psychological services for survivors. They advocate for rape survivors who find it difficult to speak out because of social stigma and also utilize varying platforms to teach the communities sexual violence and abuse.

With these five nonprofits helping women and girls in Nigeria, the opportunity for other organizations to contribute their resources toward addressing social problems will hopefully alleviate societal issues within this specific demographic.  

– Zainab Adebayo

Photo: Flickr