Information by Country

Nigeria: Background

This map does not reflect a position by UNICEF on the legal status of any country or territory or the delimitation of any frontiers.

Nigeria, Africa's most populous country, has 131.8 million people and more than 250 ethnic groups.  Although Nigeria has had a National Policy on Education since 1981, it has not been implemented effectively and efficiently due to rapid population growth, insufficient political will, a long period of undemocratic governance, and poor management of scarce resources.  Women and girls have been most affected by these negative factors.

Nigeria is one of the 25/2005 Acceleration countries although it did not reach the 2005 target for gender parity.  However, the Federal Ministry of Education is working with partners and the government’s Basic Education Project towards the acceleration of Education for All (EFA), achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Barriers to Girls’ Education

  • Poverty is the key problem to girls’ education.
  • Lack of awareness compounded by religious misinterpretation.
  • Poor supply of teachers, especially female teachers or girl-friendly learning environment.
  • Many schools in Northern Nigeria lack essential facilities and materials, including toilets and water points.

UNGEI in Action

The Strategy for the Acceleration of Girls’ Education in Nigeria (SAGEN), a domestication of UNGEI, was launched in 2003.  In Northern Nigeria, where girls’ access to education is a critical issue, the Girls Education Project (GEP) was initially established in six states. GEP also functions as a forum for Girls’ Education partnerships and in 2006, the alliance was broadened by the initiation of Nigeria Girls’ Education Initiative (NGEI), which is a forum for the government and non-governmental organizations supporting girls’ education.

The main objectives of NGEI is to encourage government and civil society to intensify support for girls’ education and to spread the messages further;  share good practice of efforts to promote girls’ education. NGEI has become a catalyst in creating girls’ education partnerships and encouraging partners to promote girls’ education especially in Northern Nigeria where girls’ education is a big problem. The partnership develops quarterly workplans and follows up on planned activities.

Key Initiatives

  • Girls’ Education Project (GEP) has made substantial contribution towards the acceleration of Education for All and for girls’ education in particular, and for raising awareness about girls’ education.
  • Since 2005, the Essential Learning Package has become an important tool towards acceleration and its impact goes beyond girls, as it is addresses the needs of those children out of school. 
  • Child-Friendly Schools’ emphasis is on gender sensitive child-friendly schooling.
  • In 2005, a communication strategy for girls’ education was developed and is integrated into the National Strategy for Accelerating Girls’ Education. Evidence based advocacy and sensitization shows that there is marked attitude change towards enrolling girls in school and ensuring that they attend.
  • The government has embarked on teacher upgrading initiatives 
  • School-based Management committees to empower communities and ensure that women have greater say in decision making, help to mobilize enrolment and address the fundamental issue of poverty.


At National level, UNICEF in collaboration with an umbrella NGO coalition, Civil Society Action Coalition of Education for All, is the leading partnership for NGEI. Other partners at national level include the Federal Ministry of Education, Division of Women and Basic Education, Federal Ministry of Women Affairs, NGOs, DFID, World Bank, USAID, JICA, UNESCO and African Development Bank.

At community level, mother’s clubs and school based Management Committees focus on gender and girls’ participation in schools.   Some of the religious bodies and Emir’s have set up their own committees to support and monitor girls’ education.

UNGEI within other National and International Frameworks

Nigeria has SWAPs framework at the national.  The equivalent of PRSP framework exist at national and sub-national levels i.e. National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (NEEDS), (SEEDS) at the state level and LEEDS at Local Government level. Nigeria also has a UNDAF framework comprising of the Government and membership from various development partners. UNICEF co-chairs the Education UNDAF group but UNGEI as a group does not liaise with the above frameworks directly.


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