Accelerating Progress to 2015: Nigeria


Nigeria, a country rich in natural resources, has experienced robust economic growth since 2001. However, the degree to which this economic achievement has had an impact on progress in human development has been low. More than two-thirds of Nigeria’s citizens are living in poverty, and their life expectancy stands at just 52 years. Literacy rates are very low, at 61 percent for adults. Nigeria’s greatest challenge is to translate its economic wealth into improvements in general living standards and quality of life.The government has recognized this and has put this task at the core of the country’s 20:2020 vision for transformation. education is at the center of this transformation challenge.this paper highlights some of the critical bar- riers that need to be tackled to make progress toward achieving universal basic education, and it propos- es some concrete solutions to make further progress.these proposals are in line with the government’s own efforts and policies during recent years to promote education and literacy in Nigeria, with a focus on girls and underserved populations. The key indicators are sobering.Today, about 42 percent of primary-school-age children, or roughly 10.5 million, are out of school. Ninety percent of these out-of-school children never attended school. Net and gross enrollment rates have also worsened in recent years. huge geographical disparities exist; the percentage of children out of school in the Northeast is 30 times greater than the percentage in the Southeast. In addition, delayed entry into primary school results in delayed graduation—on average only 37 percent of students finish primary school at the official primary-school-graduating age of 11. Children who are in school are struggling to learn basic literacy and numeracy skills. Again, children are much worse off in the North, where more than two-thirds of children who have completed sixth grade are unable to read. In a country as large and diverse as Nigeria, the obstacles to achieving universal basic education are numerous and complex, and cannot be viewed in isolation. With high levels of poverty and significant opportunity costs, many families are unable to afford sending their children to school. Other barriers, including religious beliefs and cultural norms, have prevented many girls from attending school, in partic- ular in the country’s North. early marriage and subsequent teenage pregnancies have adversely affected attendance, retention, and achievement in schools. The sector has also struggled with challenging sup- ply-side constraints. Insufficient and ill-maintained school infrastructure, and a lack of appropriate teach- ing materials and qualified teachers at the primary and pre-primary levels, have contributed to the low education outcomes.These constraints are highly related to broader institutional and financial challenges. The complexity of the overcentralized institutional structure, lack of minimum standards, limited autono- my and accountability at the school level, and inadequate overall monitoring of service delivery and out- AcceleRAtiNG PRoGReSS to 2015 NIGERIA v comes have been at the heart of Nigeria’s education crisis. In addition to these problems, a rapidly rising population will put increasing pressure on all sectors, including the education sector, in coming years. Addressing these complex and interrelated challenges will require comprehensive reforms, many of which are already being developed and implemented and go beyond the scope of this paper.this paper aims to add value to these ongoing efforts by setting out a number of concrete proposals that could of- fer tangible gains for Nigeria’s children.the paper and its proposals are intended to provide background for the Learning for All Ministerial Meeting scheduled for April 17-18. It should be emphasized that the proposals are not intended as a comprehensive response to the wide range of development needs of the Nigerian education sector.The objective, set out in the terms of reference for the Ministerial Meeting, is to identify a small number of areas in which strengthened cooperation and action might add value to current efforts of the government and donor agencies. the proposals present a set of actions aimed at addressing critical supply-side shortages and demand-side barriers, with a particular focus on the country’s North: • improving the quality of education through the provision of teacher training and materials for early childhood development, local language, primary-level science and mathematics instruction; • Addressing regional disparities through school grants and cash transfers in six Northern states; and • improving governance and increase accountability through school-based management commit- tees. If successfully implemented, the proposals collectively could have the effect of: • Addressing shortages in teachers and training materials in 14 states; • Encouraging school attendance by 900,000 girls and improving the quality of education in 9,500 schools across six states; and • Strengthening governance and accountability in schools across 15 states. The total estimated cost of these programs is $199.4 million per year for three years.These programs could in large part be financed by the government, if there could be some reallocation of funds.Additional funding from donors may be necessary.