Education

All children, no matter where they live or what their circumstances, have the right to quality education. See how UNICEF in Nigeria supports children so they can attend school and learn.

A schoolgirl in a classroom with an opened book in front of her.
UNICEF/2013/Esiebo

The Challenge

One in every five of the world’s out-of-school children is in Nigeria.

Even though primary education is officially free and compulsory, about 10.5 million of the country’s children aged 5-14 years are not in 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.

In the north of the country, the picture is even bleaker, with a net attendance rate of 53 percent. Getting out-of-school children back into education poses a massive challenge.

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.

Boys sitting in a shed in northeast Nigeria
UNICEF/UN056314/Gilbertson

In Nigeria, about 10.5 million children are not in school even though primary education is officially free and compulsory.

Ensuring educational provision in predominantly rural areas and the impact of insurgency in the northeast present significant challenges. In north-eastern and north-western states, 29 percent and 35 percent of Muslim children, respectively, receive Qur’anic education, which does not include basic skills such as literacy and numeracy. The government considers children attending such schools to be officially out-of-school.

Two girls in class in northeast Nigeria
UNICEF/2017/Sokhin

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.

In north-eastern Nigeria, 2.8 million children are in need of education-in-emergencies support in three conflict-affected States (Borno, Yobe, Adamawa). In these States, at least 802 schools remain closed and 497 classrooms are listed as destroyed, with another 1,392 damaged but repairable.

A schoolgirl sits outside her classroom destroyed by insurgents in northeast Nigeria
UNICEF/2017/Owoicho

In northeast Nigeria, at least 496 classrooms have been destroyed and 1,392 classrooms have been damaged but repairable.

The Solution

The aim of UNICEF’s education programme is to support the government in achieving SDG 4 by 2030 through improved planning and by addressing some of the systemic barriers that hinder the implementation of an effective education strategy.

Our programme advocates for education to be prioritised and targets children who are least likely to receive an education. The expected outcome of the programme is that all children access and complete quality education, within a safe learning environment, gaining the skills and knowledge for lifelong learning.

This work will be achieved by creating an enabling environment for education, improving the quality of education, increasing demand for education, and humanitarian assistance, including through ensuring:

A teacher supervises a schoolgirl reading from the blackboard

The education system at federal and state levels has strengthened capacities to deliver quality basic education.

A teacher assists her students during classwork

More teachers have core knowledge and competencies to use proven teaching methodologies to deliver appropriate quality education.

A boy stands with his parents.

Parents and communities have improved knowledge and commitment to contribute to enrolling children at the right age in quality learning in safe and protective school environments.

Children at a learning centre in northeast Nigeria

Children in humanitarian situations have timely and sustained access to quality education services.