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World Bank approves $500m credit for Nigerian girls’ education

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The World Bank Board of Directors has approved $500 million credit from the International Development Association (IDA) for the Adolescent Girls Initiative for Learning and Empowerment (AGILE).

The project’s goal is to improve secondary education opportunities among girls in targeted areas.

The bank said adolescent girls face many constraints in accessing and completing secondary education.

“In northern Nigeria, the lack of secondary schools is significantly greater with up to 10 primary schools for every secondary school. The poor condition of infrastructure and a lack of water sanitation and hygiene (WASH) facilities make it difficult for girls to stay in school” it said.

It also said that nearly 80 per cent of poor households are in the north, which makes it very challenging for them to cover direct and indirect costs of schooling.

The bank said these factors have contributed towards limiting the number of girls that have access to secondary education.

“If nothing is done, 1.3 million girls out of the 1.85 million who began primary school in 2017/2018 in the northern states will drop out before reaching the last year of junior secondary school.”

The group, in a statement said the AGILE project would use the secondary school as a platform to empower girls through education, life skills, health education (e.g. nutrition, reproductive health), negotiation skills, self-agency, and digital literacy skills.

A minimum of six million girls and boys are expected to benefit from the project and more students will continue benefiting after the
project ends.

“There is no better investment to accelerate Nigeria’s human capital development than to significantly boost girls’ education. The AGILE project will enable the country make progress in improving access and quality of education for girls, especially in northern Nigeria,” it said,

World Bank Country Director for Nigeria, Shubham Chaudhuri said addressing the key structural impediments in a comprehensive way will create the enabling environment to help Nigeria ensure better outcomes for girls, which will translate into their ability to contribute to productivity and better economic outcomes for themselves and the country.

The bank said the project would support access to secondary education and empowerment for adolescent girls in seven states of Kano, Kebbi, Kaduna, Katsina, Borno, Plateau and Ekiti.

“Specifically, the project will benefit about 6.7 million adolescents and 15.5 million direct project beneficiaries will include families and communities in participating states.”

Besides, it noted that the project has been adapted to respond to COVID-19 and will support a blended learning approach using technology and media (TV and radio) to implement remote and distance learning programmes.

“The AGILE project will expand existing primary and junior secondary schools to include both JSS and senior secondary schools to make them functional, safe, and inclusive to teaching and learning.

“This entails building more than 5,500 JSS and 3,300 classrooms for senior school, as well as improving 2,786 junior secondary and 1,914 senior secondary schools with safe, accessible, and inclusive infrastructure. About 340,000 girls will receive life skills training in safe spaces, which will help them navigate challenges in life.

The World Bank chief said the scheme would incorporate health and key information on climate change, safety, and gender-based violence awareness, adding that about 300,000 girls will receive digital literacy training.

Chaudhuri also stated that the project would offer half a million girls from the poorest households with financial incentives in the form of scholarships to further support their retention and completion of secondary school.
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