One in four girls did not receive help to continue education during school closures, Malala Fund revealed in its research report on Girls’ Education and Covid-19 in Nigeria.

Malala Fund Education Champions in Nigeria conducted the research in Kaduna State and launched the report on 20 November in Abuja, the country’s capital.

Development Diaries understands that before the pandemic, an estimated 13.2 million children were out of school in Africa’s most populous nation. School closures forced an additional 36 million enrolled students out of school.

The education champions, according to the report, analysed survey data collected from 2,253 respondents in Kaduna State, and documented a widening gap for girls’ learning access during the Covid-19 lockdown.

The girls surveyed in the northwest state said they experienced less access to learning resources, increased domestic burdens and a lack of academic support from their families, the report noted.

Government’s distance learning programme did not reach all students, according to the report, as just ten percent of girls and 24 percent of boys accessed distance learning offered via television, and only 18 percent of children used radio for study and 2 percent used mobiles.

The data also revealed that while mothers supported boys and girls almost equally, fathers were 36 percent more likely to assist their sons’ learning than their daughters’.

‘Covid-19 pandemic is exasperating the girls’ education crisis in Nigeria. If leaders do not act now, we risk losing another generation of girls’, Malala Fund In-country Representative (Nigeria), Crystal Ikanih-Musa, said at the launch of the report.

Also speaking, the Connected Development Chief Executive, Hamzat Lawal, who is a Malala Fund Champion, said Nigeria was failing to invest in girls, according to the research findings.

Lawal urged the federal government to launch an audit into the home grown school feeding programme to see how the resources was used and what the impact was on girls directly.

Additionally, the report reveals how the economic impact of Covid-19 is affecting families and therefore girls’ education, with over 80 percent of adults facing financial difficulties, according to another Malala Fund Education Champion and Chief Executive Officer of ACE Charity, Kiki James.

‘Girls did not want to go back to school as their schools were used as centres during the coronavirus, it’s unfair for our children to know their schools were used as Covid-19 centres’, she said.

‘The report showed that girls are more concerned about healthcare. Also, only 9 of 1,300 households received any form of educational materials and about 3 percent received some support from their teachers. Our girls are suffering’.

Based on its findings, the report called on the Nigerian government to provide gender-equitable and inclusive distance learning to support all students through current and future school closures and ensure safe and gender-responsive school reopenings.

The report also called on governments to mitigate economic effects of the Covid-19 crisis to help families prioritise education; and protect progress for girls’ education and rebuild the education system with gender at the centre to promote inclusive growth and ensure every girl can learn.

Source: Malala Fund

Photo source: Connected Development

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