FACTS ONLY: Over 8 Million Nigerian Children Are Not In School
As you read this, almost a third of children of primary school age in Nigeria are playing within the vicinity a school premises but they never get enrolled.
Here are some facts researched by Africa Check Nigeria.
Perhaps it would help us understand that some of our future leaders, who should be seated in classrooms, are still playing with sand and stones.
1. Primary schools (grade 1 to 6) - A total of 24,893,442 children were enrolled in Nigeria’s public and private primary schools in 2012.
This had grown to 25.6 million by 2016, according to the education ministry.
The year with the highest enrollment figure was 2013, when 26.2 million kids were enrolled in primary schools countrywide.
2. Lower secondary schools (form 1 to 3) - Enrollment in lower secondary schools was highest in 2014, when just over 6.2 million pupils were registered.
In 2015 it dropped marginally, and in 2016 fell to fewer than 6 million.
3. School readiness - The school readiness indicator measures the share of children in grade 1 who had attended preschool the year before.
In 2017, 39.2% of grade 1 children had attended preschool the year before – down from the 44.8% reported in the 2011 survey.
4. The Unicef surveys show that while the percentage of children completing primary school increased over a decade, the share eventually making it into secondary schools almost halved between 2007 and 2016/17.
5. Out-of-school children - In its latest education indicators report, the Nigerian education ministry still places the number of primary school age children who are not in school at 10.64 million.
But this figure – for 2010 – is outdated. New population estimates caused it to be revised downwards to 8.7 million by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco).
Unesco told Africa Check it had no update on the indicator beyond 2010.
Though states have access to dedicated funding to implement universal basic education, in 2017 none of them had accessed the N732 million allocated for it.
Oriyomi Ogunwale is the project lead of Eduplana Nigeria, a civic organisation whose advocacy work covers education funding and teachers’ development.
He pointed out that apart from poverty, geographical region and the educational attainment of parents, there is often a link between out-of-school children and child labour.
The share of children between five and 11 involved in economic activity for at least one hour went from 29% in 2007 to 47.1% in 2011 and was reported at 43.2% in the most recent Unicef survey.
This was found to be most prevalent in the north-central and south-south parts of the country.
Some of the most affected states have specific programmes to ensure more girls are in school, including cash transfers and free uniforms.
6. Availability of children’s books - Here the share of children under five who have three or more children’s books is measured.
The trend is downwards. Whereas the 2007 survey reported that 14% of children under five had at least three children’s books, this dropped to 6% in 2011 and to 5.6% in the 2016/17 survey.
7. Pupil-to-teacher ratio - In 2016, Nigeria had nearly 1.5 million teachers in public and private schools, according to the federal ministry of education:
764,596 primary school teachers
292,080 teachers in junior secondary schools
398,275 senior secondary teachers
Ratios in the Nigeria Education Management Information System show one qualified teacher for every 46 pupils in public primary schools, 29 pupils per qualified junior secondary school teacher and 16 pupils for one qualified teacher in senior classes.
(Note: A teacher is considered qualified in Nigeria if s/he has at least a national certificate in education)
8. Government funding - Unesco recommends that developing countries like Nigeria should dedicate at least 15 to 20% of their spending to education.
But since Nigeria’s return to democracy in 1999, the country has never budgeted more than 12% of its public resources to education.
In Nigeria’s 2018 budget, education is set to get N651.2 billion (US$1.88 billion), or about 7% of the total spend.
Less than 20% of this will go to building new schools, buying learning equipment and other capital projects.