While extremist group Boko Haram has made schooling impossible for many boys and girls in Northeast Nigeria there are a number of other barriers to education faced by girls in other regions of the country.
10.5 million primary school aged children are out of school in Nigeria, making it the country with the highest rate of non-school attendance in the world (Ndukwe, 2017), and with the majority of those being female (Archer, 2014). As the statistics from the film Girl Rising suggest, many families, when forced to make a choice, will opt to send their male children to school and send their female children to work – in local markets, looking after other children, or for other domestic services (Archer, 2014). In these communities women have a lower social status and therefore it is the males who are granted the privilege to be educated. But without education the lower status of women in perpetuated and there is no breaking free from the cycle.
On a recent trip to Nigeria, Malala Yousafazi, representing the Malala Fund, visited 14 year old twin girls in their home town of Lagos. Like many towns in Nigeria, Lagos has no public school. Sending the girls to a private school would cost the family roughly $70 per term. When the twins mother became ill and was no longer able to work, earning money for the family became the responsibility of these girls, forcing them to quit school while there brothers continued to attend.
These, like many other girls across the country, have serious ambition and dreams for their future. Yet none of that will be possible without education (Yousafazi, 2017).
Archer, D. (2014). Nigeria’s girls and the struggle for an education in the line of fire. Retrieved from: https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/poverty-matters/2014/may/15/nigeria-girls-education-boko-haram
Image 1) Mahoney, K. [UNHCR]. (2014). Young girls attend a maths class… [Image]. Retrieved from: http://www.un.org/africarenewal/news/african-child-day-un-education-envoy-urges-focus-kidnapped-nigerian-schoolgirls
Ndukwe, I. (2017). Nigerian girls often still drop out of school to work, despite country’s increasing wealth. Retrieved from: https://www.pri.org/stories/2017-07-13/nigerian-girls-often-still-drop-out-school-work-despite-countrys-increasing
Yousafazi, M. (2017). Malala Yousafzai: notes from my Girl Power trip to Nigeria. Retrieved from: https://www.theguardian.com/education/2017/jul/21/malala-yousafzai-girl-power-trip-nigeria-women-education