From Fred Ezeh, Abuja
Number of out-of-school children has dropped, as UNICEF’s educational intervention in the north, Girls’ Education Programme Phase 3 (GEP3), has resulted in enrollment of 1.5 million girls into schools in northern Nigeria.
GEP 3 worked to improve the quality of education for all children and helped girls gain better access to education and economic opportunities, thus breaking the cycle of poverty and disadvantage.
The GEP 3 programme was implemented in six northern states, namely, Katsina, Kano, Niger, Sokoto, Zamfara and Bauchi, between 2012 and 2022, with the support of the Federal Ministry of Education, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) of the UK, and UNICEF.
Representatives of the partners, in their submissions at the national closing ceremony of GEP3 held in Abuja, on Thursday, reported that the programme’s investment of $109 million yielded positive results, particularly in enrolling an additional 1.5 million girls into school, far exceeding the project’s target.
They confirmed that the attendance rate of girls in primary schools in the six states improved from 43 per cent to 70 per cent, while gender parity improved from 0.73 per cent to 0.97 per cent.
UNICEF Representative in Nigeria, Cristian Munduate, in her submission, said the GEP 3 successful got more girls enrolled into formal and non-formal schools, and also improved learning outcomes.
She added: “the project also raised the profile of educated girls, created new positive social norms in many communities and enabled a transformational shift in mindsets about the importance of girls’ education. So, it is critical that we advocate scaling of the approach in all states.”
She appreciated UNICEF, UK Government and other partners, for the commitment and funding for girls’ access to primary school in northern Nigeria. “Together, there remains much work to be done to ensure that girls transition to, and complete secondary education. This is important not only for the economic prosperity and wellbeing of the girls and her family, but to stem the high population growth expected in Nigeria.”
She also confirmed that GEP 3 also built the capacity of Head teachers and teachers in the management of schools, as well as delivery of effective learning for girls, while the unconditional cash transfer programme supported over 23,500 girls and reduced the level of poverty in the household.
“Overall, the GEP 3 programme trained over 67,000 primary school teachers, including those teaching in Integrated Qur’anic schools to improve their skills and ability to deliver quality education,” she said.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, in his remarks, renewed the commitment of the government to further reduce the number of out-of-school children, thus soliciting increased support of all stakeholders including the states government to achieve that.
He appreciated the scaling of evidence-based solution in tackling the menace of out-of-school children as provided through the GEP3. “As we continue on this path, we would leverage on the success of GEP 3 to plan better, budget better, and make better decisions in putting more girl-children in schools.”