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Inclusiveness in the Nigerian School System: Exploring New Paths


In 2017, while working as a fixer for the Regency Foundation on a documentary about the Center for Girls Education, I saw Amina. She was standing by the walls of a classroom in Tudun Wada Zaria, listening to and repeating the words of other children’s voices inside a classroom.

One two three four… She counted with the children of the class. Then, at ten o’clock, she picked up a tray from the floor filled with cooked peanuts, put the tray on her head, and slowly walked away from the school grounds. Amina is one of the most five hundred thousand children out of school, in the only state of Kaduna.

Every child is expected to go to school. But for a developing country of over 200 million citizens, it is clear that educational infrastructure is not enough. In Nigeria, like Amina, children left behind by learning opportunities mostly come from hard-to-reach rural areas. They work to provide for their families because they come from very poor households. Most of them are girls and are also the most vulnerable in the world.

While many problems in Nigeria often seem stronger and gain more prominence in the national spotlight, the corruption rampant in the Nigerian education system is also causing insidious damage to the country. At most fundamental, corruption in the education sector in Nigeria profoundly threatens the well-being of the country by sabotaging the growth of educated, competent and ethical individuals to fill the country’s workforce and for future leaders. .

The lack of transparency at the heart of the Nigerian school system

There are many corresponding problems – leaks in the system caused by corrupt practices since Nigeria’s return to democracy have prevailed to date. Most public schools are underfunded and growing security challenges continued to prevent more students from going to school. Resilient cultural and religious systems still deny young girls the opportunity to compete and succeed among their male peers.

More recently, the economic challenges magnified by the coronavirus pandemic have reduced the income capacity of millions of families, resulting in more children out of school. The elephant in the room is a lack of transparency in Nigeria’s public school system. Ironically, failing public and private institutions beyond Nigerian schools are among the endemic problems crippling the Nigerian school system.

While a series of education professionals, politicians, civil society organizations and human rights groups have become experts in speaking out against the injustice of Nigeria’s failing systems, very few Organizations are equipped with the skills to develop real frameworks that can solve these problems. . The question is how to build fundamental structures to support a functioning school system in Nigeria. The answer lies in understanding the fundamental issues. Failed education systems are linked to other systems: political, economic and social conditions.

How the change agents react

Education remains a fundamental human right and constitutes a major engine of economic and social development. When individuals and organizations focus their efforts on these loosely related problems, their solutions translate into a better school system for children. There are many organizations seeking to solve problems in the education sector. One organization, the Private and Public Development Center (PPDC), approaches this problem differently.

The Public and private development center– The PPDC has worked to improve the school system in various ways: Making schools safer through advocacy, and increase advocacy efforts to strengthen the accountability of private companies that manage procurement projects. But more specifically, the PPDC identifies and empowers local community actors, and amplifies their voices when they ask questions and seek improvements on issues very specific to the schools around them.

Community members and civil society organizations in Nigerian states like Ekiti, Anambra and Kaduna are now review and work to resolve issues related to the rigging of offers in the purchase of textbooks and school supplies, the embezzlement of funds and equipment; teacher absenteeism; and the exploitation of schoolchildren for sexual purposes or unpaid work.

As a result, a growing number of local actors are getting involved in issues that directly undermine educational opportunities for children and adults in their communities. Although these issues are numerous, the PPDC is supporting the process which ensures that they are now discovered, investigated and resolved by local actors as well.

These actions are bearing fruit. Community disagreements are being resolved. More and more students are talking about their learning conditions, and the voices of community members are now broadcast on platforms. Much remains to be done, but these efforts are laying the groundwork for greater accountability.

A growing problem in the education sector

One in five out-of-school children in the world are in Nigeria. Current security challenges may even increase these numbers. In the northeastern area of ​​Nigeria, more than 800 schools have been closed, nearly 500 classrooms destroyed and more than a thousand additional classrooms have been damaged. If these numbers continue to rise, if more than ten million children remain out of school, without care, they could become a threat to Nigeria’s security in less than a decade.

Social change actors, while tackling these endemic problems through holistic means such as government accountability, can also strive to find intersections where local solutions can be most effective. By balancing the responsibility for local development from being entirely government-led to now include citizen-led processes, the PPDC helps ensure that more power is in the hands of the people.

It changes the narrative. With the rise of insurgent groups and fake news, a nation of educated people is itself a form of present and future assurance as well as security. Corruption in the education sector erodes social trust, deepens inequalities and sabotages development. But good education sector systems will continue to play a crucial role in unraveling the dangers of corruption, and this is where we can focus.

Sherriff Tahiru is a Nigerian researcher and writer based in Brussels, Belgium. He writes on economic development, politics, human rights and social change.

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