Daunting state of education in Northern Nigeria

by iNigerian.com

By Isah Aliyu Chiroma

“Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.” – Malcolm X.

We live in a society where we pay little attention to some important things in our society. This attitude has gone on for many years. It is indeed scary looking at the statistics of out-of-school children, particularly in Northern Nigeria. It is the same thing in other parts of our society. Yes, the numbers might seem to be as figures, but the future is in danger. Then, what is the way forward?

During the colonial era, Northern Nigeria’s educational environment saw substantial change. Western-style education was brought by the British colonial government with the intention of producing a cadre of educated people to help with regional management. Formal education was made possible by the founding of government-sponsored schools and missionary schools.

The advancement of education accelerated in the decades preceding Nigeria’s 1960 declaration of independence. In an effort to satisfy the rising demand for education, new schools—including secondary schools and teacher training institutes—were established. Nonetheless, issues including inadequate infrastructure, restricted educational possibilities in rural areas, and unequal access to education continued to exist.

Northern Nigeria encountered a number of difficulties in the field of education after gaining independence. Political unrest, economic hardships, and rapid population increase hampered the region’s capacity to offer high-quality education to all. Infrastructure and educational planning were impacted by the Civil War (1967–1970), which further interrupted educational activity.

Northern Nigeria’s out-of-school problem has a significant impact on the social, economic of the area. A multifaceted strategy is necessary to comprehend and tackle this situation, taking into account the various reasons that contribute to the high rates of dropout and non-enrollment.

The condition of education in Northern Nigeria today is a result of the intricate interactions between cultural dynamics, historical legacies, and modern issues. Governments and non-governmental groups are collaborating to address issues like gender inequality, enhance the caliber of teachers, and incorporate technology into the classroom.

In recent decades, Northern Nigeria has witnessed both progress and setbacks in its education sector. Efforts have been made to enhance the quality of education, increase access, and align curricula with contemporary needs. However, the region continues to grapple with challenges such as insurgency, socio-economic disparities, and the impact of climate change on nomadic communities, which can affect educational outcomes. A multifaceted strategy is necessary to comprehend and tackle this situation, taking into account the various reasons that contribute to the high rates of dropout and non-enrollment.

Understanding the root causes of non-enrollment is crucial. Factors such as poverty, cultural norms, gender disparities, insecurity, and inadequate infrastructure contribute to the high number of out-of-school children.

Poverty is a significant barrier to education in Northern Nigeria. Families struggling with poverty often prioritize immediate economic needs over long-term investments in education. Implementing targeted poverty alleviation programs, such as conditional cash transfers or vocational training for parents, can help create an enabling environment for children to attend school.

Culture of the people, including early marriage and gender-based discrimination, contribute to the disproportionately high number of out-of-school girls. Efforts to promote gender equality and sensitivity to cultural norms are essential. Community engagement and awareness campaigns can challenge stereotypes and promote the value of education for both boys and girls.

A lack of adequate infrastructure, including schools and facilities, is a significant barrier to education. Investing in the construction and maintenance of schools, particularly in rural areas, and improving transportation infrastructure can enhance access to education.

The shortage of qualified teachers is a pervasive challenge. Teacher training and recruitment initiatives can address this issue, ensuring that schools are staffed by well-trained educators. In addition, creating incentives for teachers to work in remote or disadvantaged areas can help distribute teaching resources more equitably.

Engaging communities in the education process is vital. Community leaders, religious institutions, and local influencers can play a key role in promoting the value of education, dispelling myths, and encouraging parents to enroll and keep their children in school. Community-based organizations can also contribute to identifying and addressing specific local challenges.

Advocacy for education at the policy level is crucial. Civil society organizations, non-governmental organizations, and the international community can play a pivotal role in urging governments to prioritize and allocate adequate resources to education. Monitoring and holding governments accountable for their commitments are essential steps in driving positive change.

In hindsight, I think we have started seeing the effects and challenges out of school children could bring. We need to go behind the screen and invest in the education sector and put possible policies that can work in our society. Programs can be initiated, which will address this issue with full force, as the future cannot be put on hold, because it must come. One of the successful programs that has worked over the years can be easily adopted. Free education has help in curbing out of school children over the years in northern Nigeria.

The task of education is an unfinished business; it is not a short print that we can keep watching. It is about the future generation, and the generations to come. This requires a comprehensive and sustained effort. By focusing on these key areas, stakeholders can contribute to creating an environment where every child has the opportunity to access quality education, fostering not only individual development but also the overall well-being of communities and the nation.

In this marathon of lifetime, without education, our society will encounter a lot of challenges which we can’t avoid. Any Northern state that is not running a free education is not ready for a sustainable future. We need to take charge of our future and create a society of people who know how to think and provide solutions to our problems instead of creating the problems.
Chiroma wrote in from the Usmanu Dan Fodiyo University, Sokoto, aliyuisahchiroma29@gamil.com, +2348161118798.
Image: Markus Spiske on Unsplash (modified)

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