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UK, UNICEF partner to improve girl education in Nigeria

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UK, UNICEF partner to improve girl education in Nigeria

The Federal Ministry of Education, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) of the United Kingdom (UK) and UNICEF have implemented the Girls’ Education Programme Phase 3 (GEP3) in Nigeria as a response to the low levels of participation of girls in schooling.

The programme which spanned six northern states; Katsina, Kano, Niger, Sokoto, Zamfara and Bauchi between 2012 and 2022, had an investment of $109 million and yielded positive results in enrolling additional 1.5 million girls in school.

The stakeholders on Thursday, 24 September 2022, at the national closing ceremony of GEP3 held in Abuja, reported that the programme’s investment far exceeds the project’s target adding that the attendance rate of girls in primary schools in the six states improved from 43% to 70%, while gender parity improved from 0.73 to 0.97.

Speaking at the ceremony, Honourable Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu appreciated the efforts of the partners for providing GEP3 as a solution to the out-of-school children menace.

“In our commitment to drastically reduce the number of Out of School Children, Nigeria appreciates the scaling of evidence-based solutions in tackling this menace as provided through the GEP3. As we continue on this path, we would leverage the success of GEP3 to plan better, budget better, and make better decisions in putting more Girl- Child in school,” he said

UNICEF Representative in Nigeria, Cristian Munduate said; “GEP3 has not only been successful in getting more girls into formal and non-formal schools, but it has also improved learning outcomes. GEP3 has raised the profile of educated girls, created new positive social norms in many communities and enabled a transformational shift in mindsets about the importance of girls’ education. It is critical that we advocate scaling of the approach in all states.

“I express the deep appreciation of UNICEF to the UK Government for this long-term commitment and funding for girls’ access to primary school in northern Nigeria. Together there remains much work to be done, to ensure that girls transition to, and complete secondary education. This is important not only for the economic prosperity and well-being of the girl and her family but to stem the high population growth expected in Nigeria. We see FCDO and the government of Nigeria as steadfast partners in this complex endeavour,” added Munduate.

In addition to surpassing its target enrollment figures, GEP3’s innovations, policies and best practices are contributing to improvements in Nigeria’s educational sector.

GEP3 has also built the capacity of Headteachers and teachers in the management of schools as well as the delivery of effective learning for girls.

GEP3’s unconditional cash transfer programme supported over 23,500 girls and reduced the level of poverty in the household, enabling families to send girls to school and enhancing the ability of women to generate additional domestic income.

Furthermore, it established community-based structures like the Mothers’ Association, School-Based Management Committees and High-level Women Advocates as enduring platforms for community mobilization, mentorship and policy advocacy on girls’ education.

To improve learning levels, the programme delivered an early literacy and numeracy intervention, the Reading And Numeracy Activity (RANA). RANA was designed to improve literacy and numeracy instruction in grades 1-3 in over 3,800 public schools and Integrated Qur’anic schools.

Overall, the GEP 3 programme trained over 67,000 primary school teachers, including those teaching in Integrated Qur’anic schools to improve their skills and ability to deliver quality education.

Catriona Laing, British High Commissioner to Nigeria earlier said: “The GEP 3 has been one of the UK’s largest bilateral Girls’ Education programmes globally. We have seen good progress in improving access for girls and moving towards gender parity but with an increasing population, Nigeria’s out-of-school children figures remain high, for girls and boys.

“We now need to ensure that we build on the successful interventions of GEP 3, supporting them to be scaled-up and sustained to ensure they are catalysts for change in the wider sector,” he added.

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