The Malala Fund in conjunction with Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Education and the Universal Basic Education Commission recently hosted a Stakeholders Breakfast Meeting on Basic Education Reform. The Malala Fund works for a world where all girls can learn and lead. The organisation advocates for resources and policy changes needed to give all girls a secondary education. The aim of the stakeholders breakfast meeting was therefore to explore key policy recommendations for the reform of basic education in Nigeria.
Records show that Nigeria accounts for 45% of the growing number of out-of-school children in West Africa, with the actual numbers reported ranging from 10.2 million to 13.2 million out-of-school children of whom the vast majority are girls. However, these figures attempt to capture only the number of out-of-school children at the primary and junior secondary school levels. The true scale of the challenge is not known because the number of out-of-school children, especially girls, at the senior secondary level is undocumented.
The Malala Fund actively invests in local education advocates and amplifies the voices of girls fighting for change, and speaking at the event the Country Representative of Malala Fund, Crystal Ikanih-Musa, noted that ‘It’s shocking that in 2020 a rich urban boy can expect to receive 12 years of education while a poor rural girl will only stay in school for one year. We need to do more to build equitable access to quality education in Nigeria’.
The Chairperson of the House of Representatives Committee on Women in Parliament and Member Representing Aiyedaade/ Irewole/ Isokan Federal Constituency, Osun State, Honourable Oluja Taiwo, stated at the event that ‘The United Nations proposes that member states should provide free, compulsory and quality education to all children until the completion of senior secondary school. This is to prepare them for tertiary education, not leave out some children from education and increase their risk of exposure to crimes and other social vices. Hence I and a colleague, the Chairman of the House Committee on Basic Education, Honourable Julius Ihonvbere, have sponsored a bill to amend the Universal Basic Education (UBE) Act to increase the scope of free and compulsory basic education to extend to senior secondary education’.
In agreement with the female legislator, the recommendation of the Malala Fund is that government should amend the UBE Act to expand the rights to education, redefining basic education as covering 12 years of schooling. The Malala Fund also recommends that government provide more and better financing for education by increasing the consolidated revenue fund. Other recommendations by the organisation include government identifying the issues at scale, adopting a progressive universalism approach, expanding resources for education and improving the measurement of out-of-school children, especially at the senior secondary level.