By Johnstone Kpilaakaa
Nigeria’s budgetary allocation for the education sector in 2022 was the lowest in the last ten years. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) argued that Nigeria’s education budget for 2022 should have been ₦1.14 trillion, an equivalent of 8.4% of the country’s total annual budget and not 5.4%.
As of October 2022, Nigeria had about 20 million children, according to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). This figure is a far-reaching increase from the 10.5 million recorded by UNICEF in 2020. In fact, the World Bank posits that Nigeria is experiencing learning poverty in which 70% of 10-year-olds cannot understand a simple sentence or perform basic numeracy tasks.
For tertiary education, the Academic Staff Union of Universities on February 14, 2022, embarked on a warning strike, which later became indefinite lasting for over eight months—public universities in the country were shut down.
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” all through this period, reads a popular quote from Nelson Mandela. The continued lack of attention on the Nigerian education sector has led to increased unemployment rates across the country which has a ripple effect on poverty and crime rate.
Despite these woes in the sector, solution-focused initiatives across Nigeria are providing education through different strategies. In 2022, Social Voices covered some of these initiatives across the country that are providing educational opportunities for children and adults in communities affected by insurgency, crime, COVID-19, and unemployment.
In this article, we spotlight five of our top reports on social response in Nigeria’s education sector:
- Insurgency is pulling children away from school, but an NGO is giving them a chance at education.
In December 2022, Promise Eze reported on FastTrack, an initiative launched by the Aid For Rural Education Access Initiative (AREAi) to enable kids in six internally displaced camps in Abuja to gain functional literacy, and numeracy skills and catch up with what they had missed during their out-of-school period owing to the insurgency.
AREAi launched the first phase of FastTrack in 2021. Since then it has provided basic and literacy skills to 2,500 beneficiaries in six IDP camps with access to alternative accelerated learning to assist them in developing their foundational skills, thereby reducing the number of children in Nigeria who lack access to learning and foundational skills.
Read more about FastTrack by AREAi.
- Chess offers inclusion, a new direction for marginalised kids in Nigerian slums
Chess in Slums Africa (CISA) was founded in 2018 by Tunde Onakoya and a team of impact makers and chess entrepreneurs who are on the mission of using chess to provide education for marginalised kids.
CISA has executed more than 15 projects, including tournaments, medical check-ups, skill acquisition, and meetings with outstanding personalities like former Manchester united defender, Patrice Evra, and popular Nigerian architect, Tosin Oshinowo in different slums of Lagos. It has also impacted 976 children across communities in Majidun, Makoko, Oshodi, Kaya (Burkina Faso), and Mauritius.
In October 2022, Adebola Makinde reported on this initiative and its impact on kids in Nigerian slums.
- COVID-19: Nigerian youth initiative leverages technology to provide low-income children access to education
In July 2020, three months before the government announced the reopening of schools in Nigeria after the COVID-19 lockdown, a group of educational practitioners and learning specialists leveraged technology, championing an initiative to make education accessible for indigent students in local communities.
The initiative called Digilearns is a learning intervention platform created and designed to deliver government-approved and contextually relevant learning content to students across the country. In October 2022, Samuel Ajala reported on how Digilearns allows learners to use textbook and revision materials, quizzes and mini-lessons via Short Message Service (SMS) and Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) on any basic-feature mobile phone and does not require internet connectivity.
Read more about Digilearns intervention.
- SCAF is driving the inclusion of sickle cell warriors in Nigeria’s tech industry
In October 2022, Abdulwasiu Mujeeb reported on how Sickle Cell Aid Foundation (SCAF), an Abuja-based non-profit organization operating in both Abuja and Lagos state, is engaging itself in teaching tech skills to sickle cell warriors as they spearhead the battle of an all-inclusive tech industry in Nigeria.
- Code Plateau is enhancing the digital skills of youths but brain drain poses a threat to sustainability
In Northern Nigeria, we covered the efforts of a Plateau state government-backed initiative, Code Plateau is using tech skills to bridge the unemployment gap and the challenges it is facing.
Code Plateau is an eight months onsite fellowship designed to equip young Nigerians (especially residents of Plateau) with digital skills such as digital marketing, software engineering, UI/UX design, and data science for free. The fellowship was launched in 2019 by the Plateau State Information and Communication Technology Development Agency (PICTDA).
Since its launch, Code Plateau has trained over 1000 young people across four cohorts in the Plateau State—and others from neighbouring States. The programme which is currently admitting its fifth cohort didn’t hold in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
These are some of the initiatives that are beaming light on hope in the education sector. It is important to note that we produced and published these reports in collaboration with our partners—Nigeria Health Watch through the Solutions Journalism Network, the Education Report Project supported by Onyi Bala Foundation and Hamzat Lawal; a Malala Fund Education Champion and I-79 Media Consults’ Campus Solutions project.