‘62 per cent of Nigeria’s out-of-school children are girls’
According to data obtained from the Federal Ministry of Education, Sokoto, Katsina and Akwa Ibom are the three leading states with the highest prevalence of out-of-school girls.
The three along with 11 other states have a population of out-of-school girls above the national average.
This is despite efforts by governments at all levels to improve education access to children.
On the other hand, Delta State, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and Ondo State have the least prevalence of out-of-school girls in Nigeria.
The Universal Basic Education (UBE) Act 2004 makes primary and junior secondary learning free and compulsory for children within the schooling age.
The United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) defines out-of-school children as those within the primary school age but either never enrolled or dropped out of primary school.
Nigeria’s official primary schooling age is between ages 5 and 11. But children in some rural areas would enroll in school quite older than these ages.
Compared with other countries globally, Nigeria has the highest number of out-of-school children.
While enrolment figures across states keep increasing, it appears that some girls are still being left behind.
About 298,161 girls in Akwa Ibom are not enrolled in primary school, based on the data. Sokoto has 270,586, while Katsina has 267, 132 girls not in school.
Niger, Taraba, Kaduna and Kano states follow with 257165, 246123, 242,100 and 240,766 girls respectively.
These states are followed by Oyo, Zamfara, Kebbi and Adamawa, with170, 800; 165,245; 144,000 and 143,166 girls not in school.
For states with the least number of out-of-school girls in Nigeria, Delta has 3,668, followed by the FCT with 4,678 and Ondo with 8,700.
Ebonyi, Ekiti and Enugu followed with 15,454, 15,955 and 20, 378 girls respectively.
Cross River recorded 26,279; Bayelsa 28,735; Gombe 31,500 and Imo 32,457.
Stakeholders have continuously called on governments at all levels to increase access to education for girls. Socio-Economic Right and Accountability Project (SERAP) had reported the Federal Government to the International Criminal Court (ICC) for “leaving” millions of children out- of- school.
Stakeholders who spoke on the development called for the establishment of more government-owned schools to address the matter.
“A situation where children will have to travel miles before getting to the nearest public school should not be encouraged,” they stated.
Others however identified the challenge of policy implementation while canvassing increased awareness about the value in acquiring western education.