Key data on early childhood education in Nigeria

ON WEDNESDAY, April 19, the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) presented models for boosting child literacy and numeracy in Nigeria after piloting the models for five years.

The report on the presentation is available here.

While piloting the intervention, UNICEF documented key data on primary school education in the country.

Below are some of the statistics.

Foundational Literacy and Numeracy

  • Seventy per cent of children in Nigeria cannot read with meaning or solve simple math problems.
  • Only 49 per cent and 55 per cent of children in the school achieve basic proficiency in literacy and numeracy, respectively.
  • Literacy rates are as low as 38 per cent in the North-West and 42 per cent in the North-East for young women compared to 57 per cent in the North-West and 53 per cent in the North-East for young men.
  • Only 14 per cent of young women from the poorest quintile are literate. Fewer than six per cent of children under age five have three or more children’s books at home.
  • According to the agencies, 27 per cent of teaching staff in Nigeria are unqualified, and 175,000 qualified teachers are needed to fill capacity gaps.

Education opportunities for girls

  • As of June 2022, 7.8 million girls are out of school in Nigeria: 3.9 million at the primary and 3.7 million at the junior secondary level.
  • More than 50 per cent of girls were not attending school at the basic education level.
  • Forty-eight per cent of out-of-school girls were in the North-West and North-East.

Education Opportunities for Out-of-School Children

  • One in three children is out of school in Nigeria:
  • 10.2 million at the primary level and 8.1 million at the junior secondary school level.
  • 12.4 million children never attended school, and 5.9 million left schools early.
  • Nigeria’s out-of-school population accounts for 15 per cent of the global total.
  • Only one in three children aged 36-59 months can access the ECCDE programme.
  • Only one in three adolescents eligible for senior secondary school are attending.
  • More than 50 per cent of girls are not attending school at the basic education level.
  • Sixty-six of all out-of-school children are in the North-East and North-West. Eighty-six are from rural areas, and 65 per cent are from the poorest quintile.

Data on Early Childhood Education  

  • Only one in three children (36 per cent) ages 36-59 months attend Early Child Care Development Education (ECCDE). At least 10 million children are not in ECCDE in Nigeria.
  • Two out of three children aged three to five are engaged in early learning activities at home. This is lower in the North-East (49 per cent), North-West (55 per cent) and for the poorest children (46 per cent)
  • Consequently, two in five children between the ages of three and five are not developmentally on track.
  • The poor data are a violation of children’s right to education. They also increase children’s risk of mental ill-health, delayed entry to primary school, and lower learning outcomes.

Attacks on schools  

  • 25 schools were attacked in Nigeria as of February 2022.
  • 1,470 learners were abducted, of which 200 were still missing.
  • Over one million children were afraid to return to school in 2021.
  • In 2020, 11,500 schools were closed due to attacks.
  • North-West accounts for 76 per cent of attacks.

Educational opportunities for Almajiris 

  • Almajiri children in Nigeria are approximately two million, and they’re considered out-of-school.
  • Most Almajiris are in the North.

Public Financing of Education 

  • Between 2001 and 2017, Nigeria allocated on average 1.97 per cent of its gross domestic product (GDP) to education.
  • At 1.2 per cent of GDP in 2021, the country’s allocation to education is lower than other Sub-Saharan African countries.
  • Only 7.2 per cent of public expenditures was allocated to education at the federal level and 10.1 per cent of the national budget (federal and state levels).
  • Nigeria’s allocations to education within the federal budget have decreased since 2015, despite the growing child population and increased demand for education.
  • 36 per cent or N792.4 billion of the education budget was underspent between 2018 and 2020.
  • Between 2005 and 2021, over N48 billion in Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) funds were not accessed to improve basic education.
  • Nigeria’s spending on education is regressive and misaligned with international benchmarks that recommend the greatest spending at pre- and primary levels.
  • Aids to education in Nigeria is less than three per cent of the country’s domestic expenditure on primary education.

Meanwhile, The ICIR published reports on how the Education Ministry got its lowest budget size in six years under President Muhammadu Buhari.

Another report showed how the ministry tackled Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) and UNICEF over data on out-of-school children, and yet another publication on how an initiative helped internally-displaced children (whose parents ran from the insurgency in the North-East to Abuja) to enrol in school.

Marcus bears the light, and he beams it everywhere. He's a good governance and decent society advocate. He's the ICIR Reporter of the Year 2022. Contact him via email @ [email protected].

Join the ICIR WhatsApp channel for in-depth reports on the economy, politics and governance, and investigative reports.

Support the ICIR

We invite you to support us to continue the work we do.

Your support will strengthen journalism in Nigeria and help sustain our democracy.

If you or someone you know has a lead, tip or personal experience about this report, our WhatsApp line is open and confidential for a conversation


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Support the ICIR

We need your support to produce excellent journalism at all times.


Most read