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UNICEF and partners launch Girls’ Education Initiative in Nigeria

BAUCHI /NIGERIA, 28 March 2008 - In a concerted effort to address gender disparity in girls’ education in northern Nigeria, UNICEF and partners today launched state chapters of the Nigerian Girls’ Education Initiative (NGEI) in Bauchi.

An off-shoot of the United Nations Girls’ Education Initiative, NGEI is a collaborative initiative of the Federal Ministry of Education and development partners, particularly DFID, UNESCO and USAID, to coordinate efforts at improving girls’ education in Nigeria.
In Nigeria, nearly seven million school-aged children are not enrolled in school. Some 56 per cent of them are girls.

“It is gratifying to note that three years after its inception, the Nigerian Chapter of the United Nations Girls’ Education Initiative has become more proactive in enriching national dialogue on gender parity in education and women empowerment in our country,” said Hajiya Turai Yar’ Adua, Nigeria’s First Lady. “We all  have an abiding  duty to join hands in this worthy initiative aimed at enabling the Nigerian girl-child optimally realize the potentials of her creative and productive capabilities.” 

Some of the barriers to girls’ education in Nigeria include poverty; economic issues; unfriendly child learning environments; lack of adequate classroom space, furniture and equipment; inadequate water, health and sanitation facilities; high pupil-teacher ratios; and inadequately trained school teachers.

“For Nigeria to achieve the goal of being among the largest 20 economies in the world, it must rapidly educate its children, most of all, girls,” said Dr. Robert Limlim, UNICEF’s Deputy Representative. “Educating girls is known to be the basis for sound economic and social development. Educated mothers will in turn educate their children, better care for their families and provide their children with adequate nutrition.”

Various interventions by the Federal and State Governments, development partners, civil society organizations, communities, Girls Education Project and UNICEF include the provision of adequate, well-equipped classrooms; separate ventilated improved latrines for boys and girls in schools, including hand pump boreholes; the supply of books, learning aids and recreational facilities in schools and the training of teachers.

Non-Formal education centres have also been supported to provide income generation skills to girls and women without a chance for education to address the issues of poverty.

UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence.  The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS.  UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.

For further information, please contact:

Geoffrey Njoku, UNICEF Nigeria, 09- 461 6402, cell 0803 5250288, gnjoku@unicef.org                   
Samuel Kaalu, UNICEF Bauchi, Nigeria, cell 08039795353, skaalu@unicef.org




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