Access to Education
NANA believes UN declaration that every child has a right to education, not only right to education but equally important is the right to quality education. This is because education is more than just a right it is the root to successful and productive life. Ajayi and Afolabi (2009:34-36) stated that education is largely perceived in Nigeria as an indispensable tool which will not only assist in meeting the nation’s social, political, moral, cultural and economic aspirations but will also inculcate in the individual knowledge, skills, dexterity, character and desirable values that will foster national development and self-actualization. It is clear that education trains an individual to be useful in the society and to meet up the need of the society for national development. Therefore without education, a nation cannot get the needed manpower for material advancement and enlightenment of the citizenry. The trained engineers, teachers, medical doctors are all the products of education. This explains that the quality of a nation’s education determines the level of its national development. Consequently, the high number of out of school children is absolutely unacceptable to NANA. The situation is worst for the girls and hence forth the focus for NANA. For example, the global figure for out-of-school children is estimated to be 121 million, out of which 65 million (approximately 53.8%) were girls and over 80 percent of these girls live in sub-Saharan Africa. according to UNICEF, Nigeria has 10.5 million out-of-school children – the world’s highest number. Sixty per cent of those children are in northern Nigeria.
The National School Census (2006) reported that the number of children out of school in Northern Nigeria is particularly high and the proportion of girls to boys in school ranges from 1 girl to 2 boys and even 1 girl to 3 boys in some states.
In order to address this unacceptable statistics NANA decided to priorities the issue of enrolment, retention and transition of girl child and quality of education. The national demographic health survey data indicate low school attendance by children of school age. The official school age in Nigeria is age 6-12 for primary school and 13-18 for secondary school. The net attendance ratio (NARs) for primary school in Northwest is 47.2 relatively better than the northeast that has 44.1 compared to Southwest that has the worst statistics of 70.0 in the south. To be specific Sokoto and Kebbi, the two states were NANA currently operate have the NAR for primary school of 32.7 and 34.1 respectively compared to Ogun state in the southwest that has NAR of 76.7 and Enugu state in Southeast with 81.5. The situation is worst for the girls with NAR of 24.6 in Sokoto and 27.1 in Kebbi. As children dropout and fail to transit to secondary, the statistics is worst. The NAR for secondary in the Northwest is 32.5 relatively better than the northeast that has 28.5 compared to southsouth that has the worst statistics of 65.4 in the south. To be specific Sokoto and Kebbi, the two states were NANA currently operate have the NAR for secondary school of 18.7 and 29.5 respectively compared to Ogun state in the southwest that has NAR of 70.6 and Enugu state in the southeast with 71.1. The situation is worst for girls with NAR of 10.1 in Sokoto and 24.0 in Kebbi.
In order to address this unfortunate statistics NANA works with all stakeholders; government, traditional and religious leaders, parents and partners and any other person, institutions and organizations interested in addressing the problem of enrolment and retention of girls in any north east and northwestern states. NANA believes in a very holistic, innovative and context specific approach. For example the role of mothers in retaining girls in school in Northern Nigeria is often under estimated because of the patriarchal nature of our society. Fathers often enroll their daughters to primary and secondary schools but the continuous schooling is largely dependent on the commitment and support of mothers. Very often, mothers call off their daughters for house chores and hawking of goods. For example adolescent girls initiative, a UNFPA funded program implemented by NANA. NANA experienced high truancy until the mothers were sensitized and engaged. With commitment from mothers, girls attendance increases to almost 100%. In a dialogue with fathers to address absenteeism among secondary school girls, the fathers highlighted the need to engage with mothers if we really want to address the problem. In response to the fathers request, a dialogue with the mothers was held and quarterly meeting was agreed with mothers to respond to challenges emanating from their daughters schooling. For example mothers have agreed to give their daughters more time to study at home instead of hawking and household chores and release them on time to address late class attendance. The project is funded by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to improve girls academic performance and be able to transit to tertiary institutions
As earlier stated, another key area NANA is focusing on is quality of education. This is because over the past decade, Nigeria has been plagued by frequent political unrest. This political instability has generated negative effects on the education system. Although education had been in crisis for many years, the situation has recently been made worse by frequent strikes staged by students, faculty and teachers. Much of the difficulty lies in the fact that the sector is poorly funded. In the 2017 budget proposals presented by President Muhammadu Buhari, N448.01billion was allocated to education, representing about 6 percent of the N7.30 trillion budget, contrary to the recommendation by UNESCO that 26 percent of national budget to be allocated to education. These results in shortages of material and human resources for education: lack of qualified teachers; a brain drain from the public sector; few instructional inputs, shortage of classrooms, and a host of other problems. For example Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria (TRCN) stated that about 300,000 of the 700,000 registered teachers in Nigerian schools are not qualified to teach. Furthermore, to effectively monitor quality teaching in Nigeria, Federal Inspectorate of Nigeria reported that Nigeria needs a total 2901 primary level inspectors and 3052 secondary level inspectors. The poor quality of education in the north can also be linked to the West African Examination Council results, one of the requirements to get into tertiary institutions in Nigeria. In 2016, Northwestern states like Sokoto and Kebbi where NANA is currently implementing its projects came 30th and 32nd out of the 36 states in Nigeria.
Stakeholders have shown concern over the poor quality of education in Nigeria. For instance, the current Sokoto State governor declared state of emergency in Education and in the process assessed teachers from 360 schools and the result of the assessment shows that 31% of the teachers are unqualified. They also found imbalance in teachers’ posting to rural and urban areas. Another research conducted in Northern Nigeria by Independent Commission for Aid Impact (ICAI), shows that Parents question the value of sending their children to schools. Parents have realistically limited expectations, they want the child to read, write, and do basic math for trade and farming. According to one of the parent interviewed who happens to be a proprietor of a small shop said that when he goes to the bank he has to rely on others to help him fill out the deposit and withdrawal slips. He fears the tellers will defraud him without him knowing. He wants his children educated and self-reliant. But the large majority of children in the state primary and junior secondary schools cannot even reach this limited goal, “My first daughter graduated from primary school and can’t write her name. I won’t send my others.” Says a mother (ICAI, 2012).
As earlier stated, NANA is working with government, school management, teachers, parents and the girls to address the problem of quality of education. The traditional school setting is not yielding the desired result. NANA, through one of its project found that 100% of teachers use teachers centered learning approach in teaching their students. They unintentionally made their students idle in class. Majority of the teachers do not explain their topics in a way their student will understand and participate, instead will spend their entire class writing notes on the board for students to copy. This resulted in too much memorization and cheating, the smart students’ uses memorization as the only means to pass examinations and the weaker once would either fail or pass the examination through cheating. The school management, according to one of the principal is handicapped because they are faced with twofold problem: the teachers are unqualified and students have poor background. NANA is addressing this problem through student centered learning approach. 75 teachers were trained and retrained on student centered learning and its application is being closely monitored to address practical challenges. A special class was created for students to build their aspiration, voice and agency by learning study, negotiation, communication, and computer skills, public speaking, hygiene and Gender issues.