Over 50% Nigerian girls not attending basic school – UNICEF

Over 50 percent Nigerian girls are not attending school at the basic education level, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has raised the alarm.

The alarm was raised by the Education Manager at the UNICEF, Jutaro Sakamoto, during an Education Conference organised on Friday evening by the French Institute in Nigeria.

Sakamoto while explaining that over 50 percent of Nigerian girls are out of school at the basic education level, disclosed that 7.6 million girls are out of school (OOS) in Nigeria – 3.9 million at the primary and 3.7 million at the junior secondary level.

Sakamoto also said 48 percent of OOS girls are in the Northwest and Northeast regions of the country, adding that gender parity in net attendance ratio is below 1.0 in 10 states (primarily in the North) but is decreasing in 15 states.

According to him, 9 percent of the poorest girls attend secondary school compared to 81 percent from the richest quintile.

Sakamoto while lamenting that Nigeria accounts for 15 percent of OOS children globally, decried that “if we can’t address the situation in Nigeria, we can’t solve the situation in the world.”

He equally revealed another emerging problem in the nation’s education system, stating that those who are going to school are not being taught well as a result of lack of facilities.

He however added that UNICEF’s Education Opportunity for Out-Of-School Children (OOSC) project had been able to make some impact.

Speaking earlier, Prof. Mufutau Tijani – a Professor of French and Applied Linguistics at the University of Abuja equally raised an alarm as regards Nigeria’s education system, noting that more children would be out of school if the government failed to take action.

Speaking on the topic: “Demographic dynamics and access to basic education in Nigeria: Challenges and Prospects”, Tijani linked the challenges of increasing OOS children to the population explosion in Nigeria.

The university don, relying on figues by the World Bank and United Nations which estimated Nigeria’s population to be 224,991,917 as of 21st September, 2023 and projected it to grow to 400 million by 2050, which would make it the third largest population in the world after India and China, lamented that the more the population of Nigeria, the more the number of OOS children as the government struggles to provide infrastructures to meet the needs of the rising population.

He also said despite significant investment and key measures (some of them radical, such as punishing parents who neglect their children’s schooling), Nigerian institutions responsible for education were struggling to cope with a galloping demography.

He blamed the government for not enforcing the 2004 law on free and compulsory basic education which guarantees in principle the right to education for every child in Nigeria.

He also said the schools were not enough to take care of the large population of children in the country, calling on the government to enforce its law on compulsory basic education while also providing more funding to the education sector.

He also called for attention to the issue of family planning and girl-child education especially in the northern part of the country.

On his part, the head of cooperation and cultural affairs at the French embassy and director of the French Institute in Nigeria, Judikael Regnaut,, said the institute will continue to create the platform for converstions that will help to improve education in Nigeria.

News Reporter
Blank NEWS Online founding Editor-in-Chief and Publisher, Albert Eruorhe Ograka, is a Graduate of Mass Communication. He also holds a Post Graduate Diploma (PGD) in Journalism from the International Institute of Journalism (IIJ).

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