Stakeholders commend UNICEF for increased enrolment of girls in schools in Niger

By Rita Iliya

 Education stakeholders in Niger have confirmed that UNICEF’s intervention to increase girl-child school enrolment in the state had been successful and commendable.

The UNICEF intervention is funded by the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) of the UK.

The Girl Education Project (GEP3) intervention began in Niger in 2012 and ended in 2021.

It was executed in nine local government areas of the state – Shiroro, Agaie, Gbako, Edati, Mariga, Mashegu, Rafi, Kontagora and Munya.

Speaking with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Monday, the Emir of Agaie, Dr Yusuf Nuhu, said traditional leaders also made useful contributions to the success of the intervention.

He observed that the intervention also encouraged the girl child to stay in school and complete her studies rather than abandoning same for early marriage.

Dr Nuhu told NAN that the emirate actually put a ban on withdrawal of girls from schools by parents for such premature marriages.

“We had cases where some parents approached school authorities to withdraw girls for marriages, but the schools, with the support of traditional rulers, frustrated the moves.

“It is all the more painful as this usually happens when the girls are about completing their number of years in school.

“It is part of our responsibilities to encourage our people to go to school and we are playing that role well; we will continue to play it by protecting the girl child and making sure that girls are allowed to acquire education,’’ the emir said.

In his contribution, Mr Yabagi Ndanusa, Head Teacher of Suleiman Primary School in Agaie Local Government Area confirmed that the intervention had helped in the enrolment of more girls in school.

“Before now, the population of pupils in this school was 699 pupils, now the number has increased to 785 pupils and out of this number we have 485 girls while the boys are 300.

“Before now, we had more boys than girls,’’ he said.

Also speaking with NAN, Malam Aliyu Ibrahim, Chairman, School Based Management Committee (SBMC) in the school, attributed the increase in girls enrolment to continuous sensitisation of parents and guardians.

“In the past, there was not much awareness; parents were not allowing their children, especially the female ones to go to school.

“Since UNICEF’s intervention, many parents are now realising the importance of sending their children to school, especially the girls,’’ he said.

Ibrahim said the SBMC had been assisting some of the less privileged pupils with school uniforms and instructional collaboration with the Parents Teachers Association.

Another respondent, Malam Mohammed Ado, Head Teacher at Islamic Training Centre, Agaie, said girls were now allowed to enrol at the centre consequent upon UNICEF’s intervention.

“Before now, the centre admitted only boys, but UNICEF’s intervention helped us to accept girls into the centre and they now outnumber the boys.

“We have 257 pupils out of which 150 of them are girls. UNICEF also provided us with school uniforms and instructional materials as well as grant to construct blocks of classrooms,’’ Ado said.

He also told NAN that the intervention enabled the centre to expand its curriculum beyond Arabic Language to accommodate English Language and Mathematics. (NAN)