Girls Education: The Path To Progress

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Dear Mr. President,

My name is Austin Ekwujuru and I am a Champion for girl child education.

Nigeria accounts for 45% of all out-of-school children in West Africa, with over 10 million out-of-school children. In the pool, girls account for 60% of Nigeria’s 10 million out-of-school children, experiencing consequences such as child marriage, multidimensional deprivations and poverty, and discriminatory social norms. In Nigeria, 30% of girls aged 9-12 have never been to school at all in their lifetime. In northern Nigeria, low-quality education prevents girls from learning the skills they need to thrive in today’s globalized economy. Families do not see value in sending girls to school if they are not learning relevant skills to guarantee income mobility, so they often choose to marry their daughters off instead of continuing an “unproductive enterprise”. Similarly, long-held cultural beliefs fuel gender discrimination, which further limits girls’ ability to reach their full potential.

As world leaders meet at the Global Education Summit 2021, we expect a renewed commitment from the Nigerian Government on improved funding for the education sector particularly basic education. The COVID-19 crisis has exposed how fragile our education system is particularly for young girls. While other countries adapted to limited physical contact by adopting virtual learning, Nigeria didn’t have the infrastructure that supports virtual learning for all. With 6 million girls out of school before the pandemic, we know that the number could rise by tens of millions in the next year, coupled with the insecurity in parts of the country that has resulted in the closure of schools to avert incessant scandals associated with kidnapping of school-children.

We at Basic Rights Watch are asking the Nigerian Government to renew their commitment to education and increase investment in education. Investments in school age children, most especially girls, have the highest returns in tackling future gender inequalities and it guarantees the education they deserve that leave no girl behind. If we don’t prioritize education now, Nigeria will risk losing hard-won progress we have made and sacrificing a brighter future for the future generation. The time to act is now!

Our Demand

Our expectations to actualize transformative changes in the education sector are as follows.

  • Increase Education Funding by 26% of the National Annual Budget (according to UNESCO recommendation).
  • Support the amendment of the UBE Act to cover Senior Secondary Education (amendment to the education legislation, specifically for 12 years of safe, free, quality education under the Universal Basic Education Act (UBE Act).
  • Support an all-inclusive educational system particularly for persons living with disabilities (PWDs).
  • Support an unrestricted access to information on education financing to enable citizens oversight and accountability.

Taking this into consideration, Tracking Needs, a program of Basic Rights Watch, advocates for a government-driven intervention in the education sector with a focus on addressing the urgent and pressing capital needs of Basic Education, with the aim of improving access and learning outcomes. Our campaign amplifies the urgent need to address the growing out of school children issue, especially with respect to the girl child in Northern Nigeria, by pushing for the amendment of the UBE act and a participatory cum responsive budgetary process. The programme relies on data from the national budget, community self-reporting, audit reports, and uptake of data from project monitoring by grassroots organizations. Also, The program was birthed to contribute to the realization of the Economic, Social Cultural Rights (ESCR) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), goal 4 [Quality Education] in Nigeria.

Basic Rights Watch (BRW) is a Nigeria-based non-governmental organization (NGO) founded in 2016. We are set-up with the mission to utilize data, technology and creative ideas to simplify and communicate public information to empower marginalized groups and communities. We work to strengthen government institutions and local communities by creating an enabling environment and platforms for citizens engagement and dialogue. BRW is committed to using learnings and data generated from results-based monitoring and evaluation systems to develop effective and sustainable programs that support a community of active citizens. In this way, we support them to effectively use public information to demand political accountability for institutional improvement and efficient service delivery. We are currently working in Nigeria.

One of our core focuses is on promoting basic education in Nigeria with emphasis on young girls, who suffer disproportionately from lack of access to quality education. We are achieving our set goals through promoting open financial government, timely access to public information, transparency and accountability, advocacy, citizen engagement, and improving participatory budgetary processes. BRW has mainstreamed and broadened conversations on open government across communities and public space, with an audience of more than 500,000 people. So far, BRW has been able to reach over 1,000,000 young Nigerians across 75 institutions and 20 local communities through digital and physical platforms and spaces.

We are a member of the Universal Basic Education (UBE) coalition campaigning for an amendment to the education legislation in Nigeria. In 2017, we successfully advocated for the 8th National Assembly Senate to pass the amendment to the UBE Act. Currently, we are advocating for the 9th Assembly to see the UBE Act passed in both the House and Senate; transmitted to the President for assent and sufficiently financed so the legislation can be implemented. No child, especially girl child – who is often relegated and subjugated by harmful social norms, deserve to be left as the international community and national governments work towards the full realization of the sustainable development goals. No one should be left behind

Austin Ekwujuru
Basic Rights watch

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