Givology Staff's Blog

Education and Access: A Geographic Divide in Nigeria

In Nigeria, education levels display sharp regional disparities, especially between the northern and southern halves of the country. This geographical cleavage has played a role in Nigerian politics since the beginning of the Fourth Republic in 1999 due to ethnic and cultural differences between the zones. These variations in identity have been compounded by a lack of healthy political discourse and economic disparities between the north and the south. While the south is traditionally wealthier, safer, and equipped with better infrastructure, the north is much poorer and suffers from instability due to the terrorist group Boko Haram. All of these factors combined have influenced the sphere of education, leaving young students in the north much worse off than their southern counterparts.
In Nigeria, the overall attendance rate for 6-11 year olds in schools sits at 61%, a dismally low figure especially considering that primary, elementary, and middle schools are free and mandatory. However, this statistic further declines when surveying the northern population. In this area, only 53% of 6-11 year olds reported attending school. Part of this problem may be in the different nature of schooling found in the north. Nigeria’s north is Muslim-dominated; as such, many students receive an Islamic education rooted in the Quran, Islam’s foundational holy text. However, Quranic education lacks a focus on reading and writing, contributing to low literacy rates in the north.
Nigerian schools, at all levels, are unfunded, caused by the paucity of state funds directed towards education. In 2018, only 7% of the federal budget was funnelled into education. As a result, many schools have privatized, and independent schools have grown in popularity in many regions throughout the country. However, this new trend is projected to only widen the educational gap between north and south, as northern families are poorer and lack the financial means to send their children to private schools.
Boko Haram, the violent military sect that plagues northern Nigeria, has also posed another obstacle for students in the north. Due to a lack of state capacity, the Nigerian government has been ineffective in repelling the group, which has wrecked havoc over swathes of the north. This violence has displaced millions of Nigerians, including children, who cannot access schools. Another consequence has befallen schools themselves, many of which have been destroyed or closed. For example, in the Borno, Yobe, and Adamawa states, which bear the brunt of Boko Haram violence, almost three thousands schools are closed, damanged, or completely destroyed.
Work Cited

Must be logged in to comment.