Poverty in Africa’s biggest economy is fuelling a learning gap as poor people are unable to complete their education, according to experts.
“The poorer you are, the less likely you are to go to primary school. If you manage to go, you are less likely to finish,” a 2021 Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) report states.
“Whereas if you are rich, you go to school and are more likely to complete it.”
In addition, the report indicated that about 97 percent of children from the richest homes complete their primary school, while 34 percent of students from the poorest homes complete their primary education.
Friday Erhabor, director of media and strategy at Marklenez Limited expressed worries that there are many people in the rural areas who due to poverty could not send their children or wards to schools.
“There are so many rural dwellers that can’t send their children to school but will rather have them hawking. That explains how poverty widens the education gap,” he said.
Erhabor further disclosed that there are many intelligent young Nigerians in rural villages that have outstanding results at the secondary school level but can’t go further because of a lack of funds.
He advocated that the federal government should democratise education loans and make it accessible to rural dwellers.
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“Education loan should be a fundamental right that is enforceable,” he noted.
Finland starts school at age seven and believes that “starting children in school before they are naturally developmentally ready has no scientifically proven long-term advantage.”
School is only compulsory for nine years, meaning students can leave education at age.
The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), 2022 report indicates that 63 percent of persons living in Nigeria are multidimensional poor.
The report further states that 65 percent of the poor (86 million people) live in the North, while 35 percent (nearly 47 million) live in the South.
Stanley Alaubi, senior lecturer at the University of Port Harcourt finds it disturbing that Nigerian leaders have allowed poverty to create a gulf in the education of its citizens.
“Knowing that every child is equal and will one day work in the same establishment; there should be no disparity,” he said.
Similarly, Ukaha Offia, an engineer and Cambridge Alum affirms that most socioeconomic indicators in Nigeria are driven by income, location, and one’s level of education.
“That’s why I feel like development work in Nigeria is a farce. You can’t make meaningful improvements without increasing income and pulling people out of poverty,” he said.
He insists that an indispensable element of successful long-term economic development is a skilled population. And this can best be achieved by ensuring the citizens are adequately educated.
According to a UNICEF report in 2022, “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.”
According to experts, early childhood education is a starting point for a child’s development and the key foundation of the Nigerian educational system.
This type of education is provided to young learners before the official age of entering primary education six years, experts say, adding that it is recognised by Nigeria’s national policy on education.
The policy defines early childhood education as the educational setting for children aged three through five years in preparing for their entry into primary school and stipulates that it should be included in mainstream education.