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1.5 million girls access school through FCDO, UNICEF education programme in northern Nigeria

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By Victoria Onehi

Tthe Federal Ministry of Education, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) of the UK, and UNICEF implemented Girls’ Education Programme Phase 3 (GEP3) has enrolled an  additional 1.5 million girls into schools aross six northern Nigerian states of Katsina, Kano, Niger, Sokoto, Zamfara and Bauchi between 2012 and 2022.  

At the national closing ceremony of GEP3 held in Abuja on Wedesday, the partners reported that the programme’s investment of $109 million yielded positive results in enrolling an additional 1.5 million girls into school, far exceeding the project’s target. 

A Statement from UNICEF disclosed 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. 

GEP3 worked to improve the quality of education for all children and helped girls gain better access to education and economic opportunities, breaking the cycle of poverty and disadvantage. 

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

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 state.,” 

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 Head teachers and teachers in the management of schools as well as 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  enhanced the ability of women to generate additional domestic income. 

The programme was also instrumental in strengthening non-formal Qur’anic schools through the integration of foundational literacy and numeracy. 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. RANA developed Hausa-language teaching and learning materials, built teacher capacity, mobilized communities and engaged local governments to improve early-grade reading policies. 

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.

“The GEP 3 has been one of the UK’s largest bilateral Girls’ Education programmes globally. The programme have seen good progress in improving access for girls and moving towards gender parity but with an increasing population.

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