A report by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has revealed that Nigeria is facing a severe crisis of girls’ education, with 7.6 million girls missing out on quality schooling. The report, released on Wednesday to mark the International Day of the Girl 2023, said that most of the affected girls live in the Northern region, where cultural and religious barriers limit their opportunities.
According to the report, Nigeria is responsible for 15% of the global number of out-of-school children, and only 9% of its poorest girls manage to attend secondary school. The report also highlighted the case of Kano state, which has the second-highest number of out-of-school girls in the country.
Ms Cristian Munduate, UNICEF Nigeria Country Representative, presented the report at a ceremony held at Government House, Kano. She urged the state government and other stakeholders to take urgent action to address the situation and ensure that all girls have access to their right to education.
According to Munduate, “The sparkle we’ve witnessed from them today is a testament to the boundless potential that lies within every girl child. Their capabilities today have illustrated the outcomes that are possible when a girl is empowered…when she’s nurtured and given the chance to truly shine.
“Yet, the accomplishments of these girls give us hope. However the bigger picture brings forth an alarming reality. The truth is that 7.6 million girls in Nigeria, many from the northern regions, remain deprived of these very opportunities.
“Their seats in classrooms remain vacant, their dreams momentarily deferred. This leaves them vulnerable to early childbearing, with a soaring adolescent fertility rate. Today, more than ever, we need to emphasize the transformative power of education, a tool that not only creates opportunities but actively breaks cycles of poverty.
“Nigeria, alarmingly, accounts for 15% of out-of-school children worldwide. Yet only a mere 9% of the poorest girls have the chance to attend secondary school”.
Despite the difficulties, there are some signs of progress with effective initiatives like the Girls’ Education Project 3, funded by the UK citizens, where 1.5 million girls in Nigeria, including Kano state, have been helped to go back to school in the last two years.
Munduate urged the state government, communities, traditional institutions and other relevant stakeholders to take action to address the current challenge and to create a Nigeria where every girl can pursue her dreams.
He said UNICEF is dedicated to its mission and will keep working with leaders, partners, and stakeholders to increase investment in the well-being of girls, especially as they face the impact of conflicts, natural disasters, and the growing threat of climate change.