By Reme Nicole Urubusi
In 2015, the United Nations member states adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This agenda established shared objectives and outlined a plan of action to encourage peace and prosperity amongst nations, identifying 17 immediate social development goals necessary for social progress. Specifically addressing education, social development goal 4 aims to ‘ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning. 1(UNICEF)
With a dedicated focus on education in Africa, it is important to highlight social barriers that currently prevent the progress of education and essential literacy. In Nigeria, approximately 10.5 million children between the ages 5-14 are out-of-school, only 61% of 6-11year olds regularly attend primary school and 60% of those out-of-school children are girls. It is evident that this problem is in need of urgent attention. (UNICEF, 2018)
With patterns displayed in early childhood often reflective of patterns carried through to early adulthood, the idea that so many young children are deprived of what is considered a basic right is truly disheartening.
In 2009, Nigeria recorded an increase in the number of victims affected by terrorist insurgencies, most notably, the infamous Boko Haram group. Boko Haram, loosely translated from the Hausa language in the northeastern region of Nigeria, means ‘Western education is forbidden’. With the groups’ belief being built upon an opposition to British rule and Western secular education, a collective dismissal towards prioritization of traditional schooling has emerged.
Northern states in Nigeria such as Borno State, in particular, have suffered considerable detrimental effects due to insurgency with the state having some of the lowest educational indicators in the country. Data presented by the national education data survey found that only 16% of the parents or guardians in the state were actually literate. This is highly problematic when raising children, as parents who are cognitively and personally involved in their children’s education are able to communicate more positively with their children about school matters, values and expectations regarding good achievement. However, poorly educated parents and guardians are likely to be more dismissive towards the importance of education for their children.
86% of teaching staff in Borno State witness violence themselves due to insurgency which has contributed to schools becoming increasingly difficult to manage. There is consequently a growing animosity amongst teaching staff who often suspect others of being involved in the violence, leading to frequent issues of subordination, particularly against women. 2(Akogun et al, 2018)
Many non-Qur’anic schools have faced specific threats of bombing and violent attacks. With one of the most tragic attacks on an educational institution being a suicide bombing in a secondary school in Potiskum, Yobe State, Nigeria. Here, the attacker, disguised as a student, detonated a bomb killing nearly 50 young boys. When the attacker was asked by the school prefect why he was not wearing the appropriate school badge he proceeded to kneel and detonate the deadly explosives. 3(NY Times, 2014)
It is evident insurgency is a huge issue with damaging consequences for the education of young people within Nigeria. However, this is only one of the many contributory factors to the educational crisis. For example, schools continue to be ill equipped, inadequate and yet overcrowded, with public schools often unable to provide the necessary resources and facilities present in private schools, such as laboratories for science, computers or adequate books. As a result of the lack of teaching aids provided in public schools, it becomes increasingly difficult for staff to teach efficiently. Therefore, poorer kids face extraordinary disadvantages when it comes to advancing in education.
In addition to this, there are concerns for teacher welfare. Many teachers are overworked yet underpaid, this impedes on the ability of public schools to attract qualified educators. Poor and irregular salaries discourage the progression of a stable education system.
Furthermore, children are walking long distances to attend school meaning their productivity is limited as many battle sleep during school hours due to the long travels they face early morning. 4(Olawoyin, 2019)
All these highlight the poor state of education delivery in the country and calls for the Nigerian Government to make education a top priority. It is clear that governments at all levels must commit to delivering high-quality education throughout the country. Investments should be geared towards curriculum upgrade, improved learning infrastructure and an upward review of teachers’ remuneration to attract qualified and experienced teachers.
While DoGood.Africa aims to contribute to the achievement of the United Nations sustainable development goals in Africa, the organization places particular importance in delivering education to members of vulnerable communities in Africa.
DoGood.Africa partners with education-focused organisations such as Aid for Rural Education Access Initiative (AREAi), Wadi Ben Hirki Foundation, Stem-in-Africa (SIA) amongst others to amplify their social impact initiatives.
DoGood.Africa recently partnered with AREAi to launch a nationwide rollout of its Education-in-Bottles initiative, aimed at providing quality learning opportunities to out-of-school children located mainly in Northern Nigeria. This project has commenced its pilot at Katampe, Abuja. The objective of this initiative is to build and operate 500 informal community learning centers across underserved communities in Northern Nigeria and educate up to 100,000 children currently out-of-school over the next 5 years.
At DoGoodAfrica, our objective is not just to improve the current state of education within Nigeria; but to ‘ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning’ in line with the UN social development goals.
1UNICEF (2018) UNICEF Statistics on Education In Nigeria Infographic. Available online https://elearninginfographics.com/education-in-nigeria-infographic-unicef-statistics-on/
2Akogun.O et al (2018) Teaching in distress: An assessment of the impact of protracted violence due to insurgence on the primary school teaching workforce in Borno State, Nigeria.http://nigeria-education.org/literature/teaching-distress-assessment-impact-protracted-violence-due-insurgence-primary-school
3The New York Times (2014) Bomb at school in Nigeria kills nearly 50 boys. Available online https://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/11/world/africa/nigeria-suicide-bomber-boko-haram.html
4Olawoyin Oladeinde (2019) Premium Times. Nigeria: Children Suffer as Lagos Fails to Meet Education Needs of Increasing Population. https://allafrica.com/stories/201912240115.html