Education

The Girl Child: 1.3m girls drop out of school before reaching JS3 in Nigeria, says UNICEF

As Nigeria joins the world to commemorate the International Day of the Girl Child (IDGC), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has revealed that in Nigeria, an estimated 1.3 million girls drop out of school each year before reaching the last year of lower secondary school, also known as Junior Secondary School three (JSS 3).

It said to close the huge margin in comparison to that of the boys, digital inclusion and specifically digital literacy is key, adding that this is becoming just as crucial to the well-being and success in the ability to read and write.

UNICEF Deputy Representative, Mrs. Rushnan Murzata, who revealed this on Monday in Abuja during the commemoration of the International Day of the Girl, said adolescent girls are particularly vulnerable to societal dynamics that limit their transition from primary to secondary school.

With the 2021 theme tagged ‘Digital Generation: Our Generation, Digital Revolution: Not without Girls’, Murzata said: “Today, we want to focus on two concerns to improve the lives of adolescent girls and provide them with equal opportunities: transition to secondary education and digital literacy, digital access and use.”

She said the theme of this year’s celebration has come in the midst of recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic to access and quality learning, and the need to build a future generation with employability skills development.

“Over 1.3 million Nigerian adolescent girls are estimated to drop out every year before reaching the last year of lower secondary education.

“The gender digital divide in connectivity access to devices and the skills to use are real. Girls are less privileged in this area. This inequality has created an exclusion gap across geographies and generations. If we want to make digital revolution for all, and by all, a reality, then we need to act now with and for girls,” she said.

In the same vein, the Minister of Women Affairs, Dame Paulen Tallen, said the latest report shows that the average transition rates from lower basic education to upper basic stands at 58 per cent for the northern states of Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Sokoto and Zamfara.

Represented by 12 year-old Nana Firdausi Bashir from Kebbi State, the minister stated that the national average age for girl’s transition from primary to junior secondary stands at 64 per cent, noting that even the national average remains unacceptable.

She lamented that despite the opportunities that came as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, losses were also recorded such as “online learning came with series of challenges including access to data, poor digital skills for learners, teachers and parents and unavailability of the necessary equipment.”

She added that statistics have shown that 89 per cent of learners do not have computers, 82 per cent of learners do not have internet, with girls more likely to be cut off, and 37 per cent of youths remain unemployed due to lack of digital skills to match current required labour skills.

“An analysis of data from Nigeria’s annual school census of 2019/2020 indicates that the average transition rates from lower basic education to upper basic stands at 58 per cent for the northern states of Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Sokoto and Zamfara.

The national average for girl’s transition from primary to junior secondary stands at 64 per cent. Even the national average remains unacceptable to me as the minister of education,” she said.

 

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