The United Nations Children and Education (UNICEF) has said 58,121 female teachers are needed to bridge the gender parity in rural classrooms in Northern Nigeria.

This was part of the findings of a research conducted by UNICEF in 2018 in eight northern states titled ‘What is the effect of female teachers on girls enrollment and retention in Northern Nigeria?” The research was aimed at improving the attendance of females in schools in the north.

The eight northern states are Bauchi, Gombe, Katsina, Kebbi, Niger, Sokoto, Taraba, and Zamfara. The research is one of the two commissioned by UNICEF as part of the Nigeria Girls Education Project, Phase 3 (GEP3).

Findings of the two studies were presented to stakeholders in Abuja on Wednesday at the opening of a two-day dissemination workshop. The research linked out of school children, (estimated at over 10 million) to the paucity of female teachers in the education system.

According to the research findings, female teachers have a substantial positive effect on girls’ educational outcomes. The study also revealed that there is a huge demand for more female teachers in rural communities.

”To achieve gender parity in rural classrooms, the number of female teachers would have to increase four-fold, meaning that additional 58,121 female teachers would need to be hired,” UNICEF said.

‘Key data’

UNICEF said a key qualitative data revealed that parents strongly prefer female teachers for their daughters because they provide safety and security for the pupils.  Speaking at the workshop, UNICEF consultant, Noel Ihebuzor, said the federal government should employ more female teachers to improve access, retention and quality learning in schools.

He said employing more female teachers in states across the country will close the gap of the workforce in education while noting that the report revealed female teachers could change behavioural patterns of students positively, including retaining more pupils in the school.

”The presence of female teachers is a positive influence on parents decision to enrol their girls in school, by implication more girls will come to school, learn better and contribute to growth in society,” the study indicated.

Presenting the second research findings on, ‘Communication for Development (C4D)Assessment in Basic Education (CABE) in Nigeria,’ UNICEF C4D specialist, Ogu Enemaku, said the findings indicated that sometimes the presence of female teachers in school is a determining factor whether parents will send their children to school or not.

He said access, quality and accountability are essential for any society to develop its education system. He said the study was conducted by an international consultant ”who came in from Pakistan to carry out the research”. ”If the quality of education is improved, it becomes an attraction for parents to send their children to school,” he said.

According to him, the study also revealed that Boko Haram is not the main reason why parents do not send their wards to school in the North.

”Before Boko Haram, many families do not send their children to school. General security, poverty could also hinder parents from sending their wards to schools,” he said. The findings also indicated that with greater awareness on boosting teacher enrolment in schools, more girls in Northern Nigeria, who are inhibited educationally would get the opportunity to get educated.

Official measures

Meanwhile, the executive secretary of the National Commission for Mass Literacy, Adult and Non-Formal Education (NMEC), Abba Haladu, said the issue that affects the girl-education and women participation need to be addressed.

”It is based on this promise that UNICEF, in collaboration with the federal ministry of education carried out a research to ascertain the presence and spread of female teachers in schools across UNICEF focal states,” he said.

Mr Haladu, who was represented by the deputy director, planning, John Edu, urged various stakeholders in the education sector to build a consensus on the need to employ more female teachers.

PREMIUM TIMES earlier reported how a survey by UNICEF showed that the population of out of school children in Nigeria has risen from 10.5 million to 13.2 million. The Demographic Health Survey(DHS) was conducted in 2015 by the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) and the Nigerian government, but the result has not been officially released.


PHOTO CREDIT: International Centre for Investigative Reporting

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