The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation has released a shocking report indicating that one out of every five Nigerian children is out of school.
In what is clearly a national disgrace for a country that is the world’s eight largest oil producer, the UNESCO Education for All Global Monitoring Report (EAGMR) says Nigeria holds the world record of having the highest number of its young people out of school.
With approximately 10.5 million kids out of school, Nigeria dominates twelve other countries with which it accounts for 47 percent of the global out-of-school population.
The other countries are Pakistan (5.1 million); Ethiopia (2.4million); India (2.3million); Philippines (1.5million); Cote D’Ivoire (1.2million); Burkina Faso (1million); Niger (1million); Kenya (1million); Yemen (0.9million); Mali (0.8million) and South Africa (0.7million).
And of all these countries, UNESCO says Nigeria is among the four that has experienced the highest increase since 1999.
“It (Nigeria) is one of only four among these twelve countries where the number increased in absolute terms,” the report noted. “It now accounts for almost one in five out-of-school children in the world.”
Although, UNESCO officials blame the drop in school enrolment in some countries on the decrease in aid between 2010 and 2011, anecdotal evidence suggests that the monumental corruption at all levels of government might have worsened Nigeria’s case.
In Nigeria, officials routinely steal funds appropriated for building classrooms, buying textbooks and implementing programmes that should bring more children to school.
Recently some officials were indicted for stealing funds released to the nomadic education commission, an agency charged with the responsibility of getting Fulani herdsmen to enroll their kids in school.
“This is a shame for our country,” says Femi Falade, a private school owner in Ijebu-Ode. “President Jonathan and state governors should bury their heads in shame.”
In a statement Monday, Kate Redman, Communications Specialist, Education for All Global Monitoring Report (EAGMR), of UNESCO in Abuja, said the amount of aid to basic education Nigeria received in 2011 was 28 per cent lower than it received in 2010.
“It is in the top 10 countries for the largest decrease in aid from 2010-2011.”
It is not clear whether Ms. Redman was talking about aid from the Nigerian government or from donor agencies.
The statement said new statistics showed that 57 million children were out of school globally in 2011, which was a drop of two million from 2010.
It said that aid to basic education had decreased for the first time since 2002, adding that the world must move beyond helping children enter school to also ensure that they learnt the basics there.
“Our twin challenge is to get every child in school by understanding and acting on the multiple causes of exclusion and to ensure they learn with qualified teachers in healthy and safe environments.
It called on donors to renew their commitments so that no child was left out of school due to lack of resources.
It also noted that funds were not directed to the regions and countries most in need, adding that only 1.9 billion dollars (about N296.4bn) was allocated to low income countries in 2011.
The report, however, urged donors to prioritise countries and regions most in need as sub-Saharan African accounted for more than half of out-of-school children.