According to figures from the UNICEF, one in every five of the world’s out-of-school children is in Nigeria; and despite the fact that primary education is officially free and compulsory, about 10.5 million of the country’s children aged 5-14 years are out of 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.
The figure further revealed that the picture is even bleaker in the northern part of the country, with a net attendance rate of 53 percent.
“Gender, like geography and poverty, is an important factor in the pattern of educational marginalization. States in the north-east and north-west have female primary net attendance rates of 47.7 percent and 47.3 percent, respectively, meaning that more than half of the girls are not in school. 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” (UNICEF).
With the current situation, the SDG 4 whose focus is to ‘ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all’ is only a mirage especially in the northern part of the country where “at least 496 classrooms have been destroyed and 1,392 classrooms have been damaged but repairable” (UNICEF).
The already precarious situation in our education is further exacerbated with the current trend of school children abduction in the north by bandits. Notable school abductions in Chibok, Dapchi, Kankara, Jangebe has drawn global attention, however, the government appears to be naive on the way out, and it is only a matter of time before we hear of another school abduction in the north, which has now become a lucrative business for criminals.
The deepening crisis in our education sector calls for serious concern, and all stakeholders must wake up to the reality that the future of our children is at stake if concerted efforts are not taken to address challenges in the sector.
Another dimension to this looming danger in our educational sector is the fact that the outbreak of the Covid-19 has meant that countries adopt digital approach to sustainably educate and impact our children with skills that will prepare them for the future which is already with us.
However, Nigeria’s position in the Global Connectivity Index is abysmally scary, and leaves one with a gloomy picture for our children if urgent steps are not taken to bridge the digital gaps in the demand of digital technology.
SING Nigeria has an answer in Code-3, an initiative set to address the digital skill gap by making technology infrastructures accessible within Nigeria’s underserved communities; and we indulge you to look out for more revealing data on the issue.