A Typical School Day in a Nigeria School Environment

By Adeparua Damilola

The right to education is one of the basic human rights and it implies that every child must be able to go to school, be it a boy or a girl in order to acquire knowledge. In as much as knowledge paves way for awareness of rights, inaccessibility to education is tantamount to enslavement.

I was privileged to attend the 6th year anniversary of the Gbaramatu voice lecture and Niger Delta award ceremony, which was held at the Eko hotels and suites on August 10, 2021. In the course of the event, one of the speakers, made mention of the challenges facing a typical Niger Delta child.

According to him, children in the Niger delta must attain the age of 12 before starting from primary one because it is only at that age that children can be able to paddle their boat successfully to the other side of the community where their school is located.  In such a case it is arguable that the percentage of uneducated women will be very high since it is only at the age of twelve boys can be allowed to paddle boats, then it will take a supernatural girl of 12 to start at that age. This makes the global statistics feasible that just 39% of rural girls attend secondary school and this is far fewer than that of rural boys, which is 45%, compared to urban girls, which is 59% and urban boys 60%.

Yet, the Nigerian government is beyond reasonable doubt aware of this unbefitting and outrageously persistent occurrence but has been able to successfully evade the solution to the problem while diverting its strength toward unnecessary and less beneficial issues, but that is just by the way.

Some of the girls who even live in communities which have access to free education and have their schools located in places where it is accessible are denied their right to education based on religious reasons, while some are hampered by poverty. Although the issue of children’s education deprivation is not limited to girls as posited by UNICEF that 1 in every 5 of the world’s out-of-school children is in Nigeria. Even though primary education is officially free and compulsory, about 10.5 million of the country’s children aged 5-14 years are not in school. Only 61 percent of 6-11 year-olds regularly attend primary school and only 35.6 percent of children aged 36-59 months receive early childhood education.

Unequal right and access to education pertains to girls more especially in Africa due to the importance attached to the male children and the societal belief that the male child is superior to their female counterpart, which explains why some parents prefer to send the male ones to school.

Poverty is one major reason some girls are denied the right to get educated. Parents who cannot afford to buy the necessary things that can enhance their children’s learning or who have many children prevent the female ones from going to school, and choose to send the male ones because of the wrong belief that women’s education will automatically end in the kitchen which is in contrast to what the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) says about children’s education.

According to UNICEF, All children have the right to go to school and learn, regardless of who they are, where they live or how much money their family has. What then happens when children from a particular part of a country are not allowed or granted the same right to education like those who are from other parts of the same country? How do we also describe parents’ preference in sending the male children to school at the expense of the female children’s future?

Another societal practice that deprives the female gender of education is child marriage. In a previous piece by this same author titled ‘Child marriage and its  disastrous effect on women’s lives’, the author discussed the issue of child marriage, how it shortens the life span of women, thereby increasing mortality rate among women and its effect on women’s education. When a child is withdrawn from school at a tender age and sent away in marriage, they end up being uneducated  because in most cases, they do not go back to school and women’s rights keep getting denied because they are in no way enlightened.

A 2013 report by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) found out that 31 million girls of primary school age were not in school, and about one out of every four young women in developing countries had never completed their primary school education. That number represents a huge pool of untapped girl power: that same report suggests that educated women are more likely to get married later, survive childbirth, raise healthy kids, find work, and earn more money, among other positives.

In addition, The Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC)  recognizes education as a legal right to every child based on equal opportunity. Its Article 28 guarantees free compulsory primary education for all; progressive free secondary education that should in any case be available and accessible to all; and accessibility to higher education on the basis of capacity. It states the obligation of the State to take measures regarding school attendance and discipline. It also encourages international cooperation in matters related to education, in particular elimination of ignorance and illiteracy and access to scientific and technical knowledge.

Going by a source, in the northern part of Nigeria, the female gender’s education picture is even bleaker, with a net attendance rate of 53 percent. Getting out-of-school children back into education poses a massive challenge. Gender, like geography and poverty, is an important factor in the pattern of educational marginalization. States in the northeast and north-west have female primary net attendance rates of 47.7 percent and 47.3 percent, respectively, meaning that more than half of the girls are not in school.

As stated by another source, Girls suffer more than boys in terms of missing out on education. In the northeast of Nigeria, only 41% of eligible girls receive a primary education, 47% in the north-west. Social attitudes can also affect negatively on education rates especially in northern Nigeria. In northeastern and northwestern states, 29 % and 35% of Muslim children, respectively, attend Qur’anic education, which does not include basic education skills such as literacy and numeracy. The Government officially considers these children out of school.

Education deprivation in northern Nigeria is driven by various factors, including economic barriers and socio-cultural norms and practices that discourage attendance in formal education, especially for girls. If children are said to be the leaders of tomorrow and they are denied access to education that can mould them into becoming future great leaders, how can the nation develop?

As posited by a source, every day, girls face barriers to education caused by poverty, cultural norms and practices, poor infrastructure, violence and fragility.  Going by UNESCO estimates, around the world, 132 million girls are out of school, including 34.3 million of primary school age, 30 million of lower-secondary school age, and 67.4 million of upper-secondary school age. In countries affected by conflict, girls are more than twice more likely to be out of school than girls living in non-affected countries. In addition, in many countries, among girls who do enter primary school, only a small portion will reach and far fewer will complete secondary school.

In conclusion, if  girl child education is encouraged, there is bound to be a drastic reduction in the percentage of child marriage because the years spent in school will in effect increase children’s age before getting married which will also decrease stillbirth, mortality rate, unwanted pregnancy among the female gender while  increasing the percentage of educated women in the society and this will lead to well developed nations. Notwithstanding, no child should be denied the right to get educated for any reason whether  gender related reason or geographical, societal belief or religious reasons.

Adeparua Damilola, Can be reached via:


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