Nigeria risks losing next generation of girls – Malala Fund

Sunday Ani

The in-country representative at Malala Fund, Crystal Ikanih-Musa, has raised the alarm that if Nigerian leaders fail to act now, Nigeria would run the risk of losing the next generation of girls. He stated that the COVID-19 pandemic an estimated 13.2 million children were out of school, lamenting that the COVID-19 lockdown had worsened the situation and pushed the figure to 36 million; a development he said was exacerbating the girls’ education crisis in Nigeria.

However, the Malala Fund Education Champions in Nigeria has also called on the Federal Government to provide gender-equitable and inclusive distance learning support for students.

This followed a research finding in Kaduna State, which revealed that only a handful of girls had access to distance education mode offered during the COVID-19 lockdown. According to the survey carried out in Kaduna State, girls had less access to learning resources, increased domestic burdens and lacked academic support from their families.

This was made public during the launch of a report titled, ‘Girls’ Education and COVID-19 in Nigeria,’ yesterday by Malala Fund Education Champion.

The report said girls in Nigeria faced distinct gender impacts during the pandemic, with over 50 per cent of them receiving no help to continue with their education during school closures. It further revealed that the government’s distance learning programme did not reach all students as only 10 per cent of girls and 24 per cent of boys accessed distance learning offered via television, leaving only 18 per cent of children with radio for study and two per cent with mobiles.

The report which analysed data collected from 2,253 respondents in Kaduna State revealed that over 50 per cent of the girls did not receive any kind of help to continue with their education during the lockdown.

The report showed gender disparity in education support with mothers supporting boys and girls almost equally, while fathers were 36 per cent more likely to assist their sons’ learning than that of their daughters. ‘In general, boys are twice more likely to have access to a private tutor during the pandemic than girls,’ the report said.

The Malala Fund Education Champion’s Programmes Manager, Benjamin John added that the report also revealed how the economic impact of COVID-19 was affecting families, particularly, girls’ education, with over 80 per cent of adults facing financial difficulties.

‘I have spoken to many families in different communities during the lockdown. My interactions revealed that financial constraints will be a major factor in the decision to re-enrol girls in school due to dwindling income,’ he said.

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