Currently, the biggest threat to girl’s education in Nigeria is the lack of security. There are numerous cases of kidnappings in Nigeria, particularly in the North where criminal gangs take advantage of the poor security situation and abduct girls.
I caught up with Dr. Azubuike Onuora-Oguno, an expert in Human and Minority Rights. Azubike described the education of the girl child as a multiplier in the realization of her other rights. Education provides the girl child with a ‘defence’ which breaks the circle of reproductive and financial abuse-this decreases gender-based violence. Azubike, mentions the government’s reluctance to tackle the issues around insecurity in the country as the biggest threat to girl child education in Nigeria. Girls in northern Nigeria who have witnessed gender-based violence and abductions are more likely less interested in returning to school than when compared with those who have not.
The northern part of Nigeria continues to lag in terms of girl-child school enrolment. In North-Eastern and North-Western Nigeria, only around 30% of girls attend secondary school, while in Southern Nigeria, over 70% of girls attend secondary school. The persistent issues of abduction have only made matters worse. Parents are no longer assured of the safety of their young daughters while at school. Several cultural, economic, and social practices also threatens the education of the girl child in Nigeria. These issues raise vital questions such as, ‘whose responsibility is it to keep the girl child safe at school’? Is it the responsibility of the teachers, school heads, government, or parents? Dr. Azubike places the responsibility first on the government. School management and Parents do not have any mandate to enforce security or stop the persistent abduction of girls from their school, but the government does. Chapter IV section 42 of the 1999 Nigerian constitution also places this responsibility on the government.
The Nigerian government claims it has put up interventions to support girl child education, especially in the northern part of Nigeria, but to date, these interventions seem ineffective. Nigeria is a signatory to the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights on the 14th of November 1960. By this the Nigerian state committed itself to accept that education is a fundamental human right of its citizenry irrespective of age, gender, socio-economic status. Again, on the 29th of Jul 1993, the Nigerian government signed in the international covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, and on the 31st of August 1982 signed the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights. But the Nigerian state has persistently failed to protect the human rights of the girl child.
Nigeria also endorsed the Education for All in 1990; the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and more recently the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Sky News (Sunday 30th May 2021) reports that during April of 2014, 276 girls were kidnapped from their school. Seven years on, over 100 of these girls are still missing. There are several other unreported cases of abduction. With only nine years away from meeting the SDG-5 target of ‘achieving gender equality and empower all women and girls by 2030. Nigeria needs to rethink it’s safety at school strategies.
Sophie Dan, 2020. AGILE Fights for Girls’ Access to Education in Northern Nigeria (accessed 12/06/2021) https://www.borgenmagazine.com/agile-fights-for-girls-access-to-education-in-northern-nigeria/
 Permanent delegation of Nigeria to UNESCO (accessed 16/06/2021), https://nigeria-del-unesco.org/nigeria-in-unesco/
 International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. United Nations Treaty Collection. (Accessed 16/06/2021) https://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-3&chapter=4
 African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights. (Accessed 16/06/2021) https://www.achpr.org/ratificationtable?id=49
Education For All: Problems and Prospects in Nigeria by PROF. UJU CLARA UMO, (JP) Department of Arts Education, University of Nigeria, Nssuka. (accessed 16/06/2021) https://www.globalacademicgroup.com/journals/resourcefulness/educational%20for.pdf)
 Timothy Obiezu, 2021. VOA More Than 100 Chibok Girls Still Missing Seven Years Later (accessed 12/06/2021) https://www.voanews.com/africa/more-100-chibok-girls-still-missing-seven-years-later