• Saturday, April 20, 2024
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Over 7.4m boys disengaged from education in Nigeria — UNICEF

UNICEF urges Nigeria to secure schools, children’s future

About 7.4 million boys are disengaged from education in Nigeria, according to a report by UNICEF.

In 2017/2018, there were about 10 million out-of-school children in Nigeria at the primary school level. Male students represented the majority of them, accounting for 62 percent of the total.

Similarly, the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) warned that the cost of boys not completing basic education could be very high, with impacts on future job prospects, salaries, and work satisfaction. UNESCO further noted the effect of this on choices, behaviours, men’s health, as well as their role as citizens and family decisions.

“Educated men are found to be more likely to treat women and men equally and support gender equality. Boys who have a secondary education are more likely to condemn gender-based violence.

Addressing boys’ disengagement from and disadvantage in education could be transformative in promoting gender equality, reducing violence, and protecting the futures of all,” UNESCO stated.

According to Rahama Farah, chief of the UNICEF field office, Kano, Nigeria has a record of 18.5 million out-of-school children out of which 10 million are girls.” Farah disclosed this during a media dialogue on girls’ education in Kano, describing the statistics as alarming.

“Currently in Nigeria, there are 18.5 million out-of-school children, 60 percent of these are girls; that is over 10 million girls out of school.

“The majority of these out-of-school children are from northern Nigeria. This situation heightens the gender inequity, where only one in four girls from poor, rural families complete junior secondary school education,” he said.

UNESCO in December 2023 reported that globally, 132 million boys were out of school. That is more than half of the global out-of-school youth population and more than the 127 million girls who are also out of school.

The organisation maintained that ensuring access to quality education for all was not a zero-sum game. It said it was important to ensure that the focus on achieving gender parity and equality did not ignore boys. “Supporting boys does not mean that girls lose out and vice-versa. On the contrary, equal education opportunities benefit both girls and boys and the broader society,” UNESCO said.

Research has shown that girls have more difficulty accessing education, especially in Nigeria, and are more likely than boys to be out of school at the primary level.

However, boys are at greater risk of repeating grades, failing to progress, completing their education, and not learning while in school.

The report further revealed that while previously boys’ disengagement and dropout were concerns mainly in high-income countries, several low and middle-income countries have seen a reversal in gender gaps, with boys now lagging behind girls in enrolment, completion, and learning outcomes.

Boys are more likely than girls to repeat primary grades in 130 countries, and more likely to not have an upper secondary education in 73 countries. At the tertiary level, globally only 88 men are enrolled for every 100 women.

In its efforts to ensure that no child is left behind, UNESCO has restated its position that education is a human right for everyone. It also highlighted that education has a massive positive impact on economic growth and salaries.

The ‘Leave No Child Behind Scheme’ global report on boys’ disengagement from education showed that boys were increasingly left behind in education.

“Poverty and the need to work are among the most important drivers of boys’ dropout,” the report said.