The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has revealed that 18.5 million children in Nigeria are currently out of the school of which 60 percent, that is, over 10 million of them are girls.
Nigeria is a country with much diversity ranging in landmass, ethnicity, culture, language, and others. It is not a load of baloney asserting that the harmony in Nigeria since independence has been well managed right from being protectorates. However, things are now fallen into improper fractions, mostly in the Education sector of Nigeria, and this calls for urgent attention on things needed to be addressed.
One in every five of the world’s out-of-school children is in Nigeria. Even though primary education is officially free and compulsory, about 10.5 million of the country’s children aged 5-14 years are not in school. Only 61 percent of 6-11 year-olds regularly attend primary school and only 35.6 percent of children aged 36-59 months receive early childhood education.
Most public schools in Nigeria lack needed facilities, such as working laboratories, libraries, electricity, and quality learning environments. Infrastructures in some public schools are in deplorable condition, others are below standards, and are not even functioning at all.
The UN in a report said that the education deprivation in northern Nigeria is driven by various factors, including economic barriers and socio-cultural norms and practices that discourage attendance in formal education, especially for girls. Insecurity across the different geopolitical zones in Nigeria is an exacerbating factor as school infrastructures have been destroyed and schools forced to close down.
Nigeria Population; an Odd Against Benchmark
As of Monday, August 15, 2022, the Worldometer elaboration of the latest United Nations data estimated Nigeria’s population to be 216,939,584. This daily rise in Nigeria’s population has provoked extensive challenges in ensuring quality education in the country. The lack of adequate facilities, insecurity, low funding, and some other factors has made most of these students bite the bullet against their own will.
Those who are currently in schools are having, if not bad, then a fairly classroom standard containing over 100 pupils for one teacher as against the UNESCO benchmark of 35 students per teacher and culminating in students learning under trees for lack of classrooms. These and many more had raised apprehensions on what the lives, future, and hope are for the often called leaders of tomorrow students.
Undoubtedly, another major factor inciting this figure is the high rate of poverty in Nigeria. The poverty rate in Nigeria is alarming, as many people are wretched to the extent of not having cloth nor a roof on their heads, or a reliable source of income to manage themselves and their homes. Most people in this ‘surviving mode’ category don’t even think of prioritizing education, their ultimate goal daily is to chase their daily meal.
It is worth noting that parents/guardians who barely find their daily meals cannot afford the necessities of life such as education, abode, and upkeep for their children. The illiterates or parents with a low level of education also have a role or play in this because education begins at home.
Some other factors are school related, for instance, low academic performance, distance to school, school environment, outrageous punishment by some teachers, and poor facilities for students, most especially good toilets for girls causes some students to dislike or have less interest in school activities and consequently make them dropout
The above-listed factors that have heightened the figure of out-of-school children have negative prompts for teenage pregnancy/marriage. Out-of-school children easily perpetuate crime and other vices in society by engaging in illegal and risky activities such as drug and sex-related problems, violence and gambling are also very common in them.
Getting out-of-school children back into education poses a massive challenge.
The Head of Department, Mass Communication, Fountain University Osogbo, Kamoru Salaudeen(PhD), disclosed that family failure, communal failure, schools, media, and government failures are major factors responsible for the children out of school in Nigeria.
“All institutions of socialization have failed in their responsibilities. Corruption in the education sector is just a symptom. Parents pay their way to buy results right from the primary school level. Will a child who knows he doesn’t have to go to school to get certificates waste time going to school?” He said.
Dr. Salaudeen said there must be a collective and deliberate effort to reduce the rate of out-of-school children in Nigeria. He also emphasized how good parenting could affect teenagers’ educational pursuits.
“Families should rise to their responsibility of raising responsible children. Most parents today are accidental parents, parents who should still be underparenting themselves. What kind of parenting do you think a victim of unwanted and adolescent pregnancy delivers to their child?” He said.
The don noted that westernization has also demolished the communal structures that should regulate the family and this according to him has played an offside shot on this pitch.
He said, “Unless we return that structure, we can’t reverse the case. For instance, a neighbor cannot scold the child of his neighbor for sneaking back home after his parents had left. The extended family is not even in that proximity, we must go back to the Yoruba proverb that says, “It takes 200 eyes to monitor a child.”
He, however, advised the Government should be more serious about the management of educational institutions and also look into the motivation of teachers, standardization of schools, development of skill-oriented curricula, provision of jobs for graduates, and more importantly, provision of enabling environment for business to thrive and encouragement of investments and investors.
An Educationist, Obasanjo Fajemirokun, who is also the Founder of Brace-Up The Young, a nonprofit organization that focuses on the quality and accessibility of education to children in Nigeria disclosed that children of school age are currently not in school for different reasons. Among the reasons, he attributed causes include poverty, parental problems, access to schools, and socio-cultural issues.
He revealed that payment of school fees, getting writing materials, uniforms, textbooks, and other basic needs are costs that are too high for some parents to afford.
Obasanjo affirmed that parental problems are also one of the root causes of this problem. “A lot of parents stay in dysfunctional homes where most of them come from single parenting and this affects the children going to schools.” He said.
For solutions, the educationist said scholarships need to be released to ensure children who are facing financial challenges return to school. “NGOs and some Youth Organizations have been doing this and have been ensuring that children have been going to such needs but more still need to be done.”.
He urged the government to review the educational system to make it more inclusive and make that would capture all groups, adding that the government needs to increase funding to schools and create awareness of the need for all children to be in school, while lawmakers should also make adequate legislation to make this a reality.
He added, “The Nigerian government needs to step up their game by reviving productivity, educating our children, especially the girl-child, and creating employment opportunities. This will gradually eradicate crimes and restore national stability.”