2006 Nigeria: Evaluation of girls' education project
The Girls’ Education Project (GEP) has its genesis in a Memorandum Of Understanding (MoU) signed in December 2004 between the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DfID). In the MoA, the two partners committed to jointly deliver the GEP with DfID providing financial support worth twenty five million United States Dollars (US$25M) over a three-year period and UNICEF undertaking to coordinate and manage implementation in partnership with the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN).
This tripartite partnership for the GEP was operationalised within the framework of an already existing FME-UNICEF Strategy for Accelerating Girls’ Education in Nigeria (SAGEN). The referred MoA (FGN, DfID and UNICEF, 2004) took cognisance of the fact that, despite the spirited efforts to accelerate the EFA goals, an estimated 7 million of Nigeria’s children of primary school age were out of school. Out of these, 4.3 million (62%) were girls (FGN- DfID-UNICEF, 2004). This reflected a NER of 74% for boys and 56% for girls and a gender gap of 18 percentage points. In addition, Nigeria’s maternal and child mortality rates also ranked among the highest in the world, a situation that raised fiscal concerns to the FGN. Based on well-established evidence of the social and economic benefits accrued through female education in reducing
maternal and child mortality, improving sanitation and reducing communicable diseases –including HIV/AIDS, the FGN, through the Federal Ministry of Education (FME) and State Ministries of Education (SMoE), created a legislative and delivery framework with the aim of addressing issues of girls’ education in particular and the empowerment of Nigeria women, in general. In response to these systemic initiatives, the Universal Basic Education (UBE) law to fast-track basic education and EFA interventions was enacted in 2004 and operated under the Commission for UBEC. In addition, the National Economic Empowerment Strategy (NEEDS) and State Economic Empowerment Development Strategy (SEEDS) were also established with a focus on issues of low school participation and persistent regional and gender disparities in education within the contexts of national development. In response to the issues of focus, the following areas of focus were identified:
• Negative impact of nutritional deficiencies and poor health on physical and cognitive development
• Inadequate provisions for early childcare and education
• High cost of education creating a barrier for children from poor families
• Low access and poor quality of primary education
• Limited scope of adult and non-formal educational provisions
• Gender and geographical inequalities in educational access and quality
To assess the impact, effectiveness and sustainability of the Girls’ Education Project (GEP) interventions as well as the systems put in place at the FGN, State, LGA, Community and school levels for supporting and sustaining girls’ education (GEP Evaluation ToR, 2008:). In order to make objective judgements on project accomplishments as well as benefits, the evaluators were directed to the five outputs listed in the Project Memorandum.
The evaluation was guided by the principle of participatory approach to evaluation that engaged various GEP stakeholders in their different capacities. Secondary stakeholders from FME, DPs, CSOs and NGOs participated in a stakeholders’ debriefing meeting at UNICEF Abuja where issues regarding the conceptualisation, the objectives and purpose of the evaluation study were discussed. The stakeholders’ inputs were considered in the sharpening of the consultants’ reflexivity in designing the evaluation. The meeting discussed the various types of data to be sought in order to meet the objectives of the evaluation, and logically, the instruments to be used to solicit particular types of data. Primary stakeholders who include mainly children and young people (from GEP and non-GEP schools) participated modestly in generating through their own words as they shared their experiences as beneficiaries of the project.
Based on report on varying performance in the achievement of GEP outputs (Annual Progress Reports, 2006 and 2007) three (3) out of the six (6) GEP states were selected for this evaluation to represent the different performing regions. Thus the sample states include Bauchi, Niger and Sokoto (this is not in order of performance). In Bauchi and Niger, Giade and Dass as well as Gbako and Rafi Local Government Education Authorities (LGEAs) were selected respectively. While in Sokoto, Raba and Gudu LGEAs were selected. In each of the LGEAs, 5 GEP and 5 non-GEP schools were selected. In addition, 2 Integrated
Qur’anic Centres (IQCs) and 3 Non-formal Education (NFE) centres were sampled. The sampling of LGEAs, the schools, IQCs and NFEs were sampled based on convenience of their proximity of each other and accessibility within the period allocated for evaluation.
For the human subjects, questionnaires, focus groups discussion (FGD) guides, individual interviews schedules, and occasional non-participant observation were conducted. In addition, the impersonal data required observation checklists, documentary analyses, and informal discussions to be conducted. The non-participant observation was designed to function with the help of a checklist that guided the evaluator’s attention on key aspects of the GEP schools and classrooms as well as the Non-GEP schools and classrooms. The items on the checklist included the school physical infrastructure with specific focus on classrooms, water points and their functionality, sanitation, latrines and their use, school gardens, school feeding programmes, classroom settings, as well as teaching and learning materials (TLMs) that were not only available in the schools and classrooms but also accessible to learners for their appropriate use. While observation provided space for watchfulness and insights at the scene of action/research site/event, the evaluators also made field notes to guide the interpretation of the observations made. Informal discussions with subjects linked to the GEP were also recorded as field notes. In order to ensure accuracy in capturing detail of the different settings, photography was used selectively as a data collection method.
Findings and Conclusions:
1. Essential Learning Package (ELP) training had been conducted to education planning officers at the state and LGEA levels.
2. EFA goals are reflected in the state plans and budgets with GEP states embracing girl’s education forums with the participation of key line ministry of health, finance, economic and planning, information, women affairs and rural water supply.
3. The Measurable Achievable Relevant Time-bound (SMART) rights-based costed Whole School Development Plans (WSDPs) had not been fully designed or agreed upon in all GEP schools/communities as indicated in the project activity plans. The major handicap for the relevant OVI was the complexity of the template, which needs revision to make it user-friendly.
4. Generally, SBMCs in all the GEP states had adopted flexible approaches to increasing school participation rates for boys and girls through various strategies that include, household mapping to identify families with children of school going age and persuade them enrol them in school.
5. While the LGEAs had developed quarterly plans that inform their activities, particularly those focusing on GEP, they lacked a comprehensive education sector plan at the LGEA levels and also, not all schools had developed the WSDPs. However, UNICEF indicated that plans were underway to support the LGEAs develop their comprehensive sector plans after the completion of the state education sector plans.
6. Traditional rulers and religious leaders overwhelmingly demonstrated their support and willingness to mobilise their communities to enrol girls in schools and specifically used traditional and religious ceremonies/activities to sensitise parents on the value of educating girls and women.
7. The federal government has scaled up efforts in support of girls education to 15 states by increasing support for girls’ education through the MDG debt relief funds. Similar support has been extended to 5 states in the southern part of Nigeria that are affected by high boys’ drop out rates.
8. Support is also being directed to training of school based management committee members and the establishment of model Second Chance Educational Centers for young girls/women who dropped out of school due to early pregnancy/marriage with a view to mainstreaming them into the formal educational system.
9. The pupil textbook ratio (PTBR) in all the GEP schools is on average 1:3, with only a few schools that recorded a larger ration. This ratio is as a result of consignment of instructional/learning/recreational supplies (textbook, schoolbags, pens, pencils) from UNICEF and the state government to all GEP and non-GEP schools which in some states, has helped to improve the pupil textbook ratio (PTBR) to1:2 in GEP schools and 1:4 in non-GEP schools. This development is measured against the baseline of 1:7 in 2004.
10. The teacher-pupil ratio (TPR) has been maintained at an average of 1:55, with schools located in rural areas attracting few female teachers. This calls for enhanced capacity building for the male teachers available to enable them respond effectively to learning and life skills needs of both female and male learners. Also, the number of qualified teachers was generally inadequate and some of the schools were grossly understaffed with establishment as low as or two teachers.
11. Apart from the general shortage of teachers in many states, the women teachers are relatively few and in some schools they are non-existent. The National Commission on Colleges of Education (NCCE) and the National policy on gender are guiding college intakes to ensure that women fill the quarter allocated to them. This is in addition to engendering the curriculum to make it gender sensitive.
12. Over 70% of children responded correctly to issues of health and HIV/AIDS raised in the pupils’ questionnaire. Observations revealed healthy toilet behaviour and other hygiene and sanitary-related practices such as washing hands after using the toilet/latrine and personal cleanliness, among others. In some of the schools, however, the facilitative tools for health practices such as functioning boreholes within the school environments and communities lacked water, thus defeating the purpose of enhancing health practices.
1. Sensitisation using religious leaders and traditional rulers should continue to be supported and enhanced.
2. There is need to develop comprehensive state education sector plans whose costing is rationalised efficiently, are realistic and gender sensitive, and which enhance political willingness to support the plan implementation through increased budgets to education with focus on improvement of gender parity.
3. Continuous training of members of SBMCs on matters of planning, procurement, and keeping records should be enhanced. In addition, the SBMCs should be empowered financially through provision of school grants that would help effect the school plans and address some of the issues that continue to hamper gender equality in the schools. There is also need to revise the template for WSDPs with the aim of simplifying it and making it user-friendly to the SBMCs.
4. Ensuring that growth in the education of girls and boys is in tandem to avoid possible gender-based backlash if the boys under-achieve or perceive to be sidelined/discriminated
5. Re-thinking about feminine needs that may be affecting girls silently with regard to puberty education, access to low cost culturally-sensitive sanitary requirements including locally produced sanitary pads.
6. Boys’ masculine needs require attention, particularly demonstrating the link between education and socio-economic or material well-being, through enhanced vocational skills.
7. Distance to schooling needs to be addressed in a manner that shall help to bring schools closer to the communities, particularly for the JSS for ease of transition. This should be a priority for the state government
8. Shortage of teachers may be addressed through creativity such as noted in multi-grade teaching, particularly when the schools have few learners. However, utmost there is need to continuously train teachers, especially female teachers and deploy them to the rural areas. This action should be accompanied by a revision of teachers’ terms of services to include incentives that would attract the teachers –both female and male- to serve in such areas.
9. IQE should be scaled up and more efforts made to work closely with experts in the Islamiyya approach of expanding Qur’anic education and making it more inclusive of secular education that is characterised by improved infrastructure and teaching learning environments, that adopt child friendly schools benchmarks as much as is practicable.
10. GEP should enhance the capacities of communities (including young people) as well as co-implementers and managers with the relevant knowledge, skills and attitudes that shall empower towards self-reliance in managing educational activities leading towards achievement of the MDGs and EFA goals
11. Cost-effective means of producing incentives such as school bags by state governments should form part of the cost-cutting strategy for attracting children to school
12. The issue of special needs education needs to be fronted more so as to make GEP more inclusive. This should focus on various disabilities that create double or even triple exclusion for some children, particularly girls.
13. GEP states and communities should be encouraged and even facilitated to share their knowledge and skills with the non-GEP states and communities as a way of scaling up.
14. Strong inspectorate for close supervision and monitoring of school developments should be inbuilt in future programmes to ensure maximum cost-effective benefits.
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