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World Bank approves $500 million credit for Nigerian girls’ education

The World Bank Board of Directors has approved $500 million credit from the International Development Association (IDA) for the Adolescent Girls Initiative for Learning and Empowerment (AGILE).

The project’s goal is to improve secondary education opportunities among girls in targeted areas.

In a statement sent to newsmen on Tuesday, the bank said adolescent girls face many constraints in accessing and completing secondary education.

“In northern Nigeria, the lack of secondary schools is significantly greater with up to ten primary schools for every secondary school. The poor condition of infrastructure and a lack of water sanitation and hygiene (WASH) facilities makes it difficult for girls to stay in school” it said.

It also said that nearly 80 per cent of poor households are in the north, which makes it very challenging for them to cover the direct and indirect costs of schooling.

The bank said these factors have contributed towards limiting the number of girls that have access to secondary school.

“If nothing is done, 1.3 million girls out of the 1.85 million who began primary school in 2017/2018 in the northern states will drop out before reaching the last year of junior secondary school.”

It said the AGILE project will use the secondary school as a platform to empower girls through education, life skills, health education (e.g. nutrition, reproductive health) GBV awareness and prevention, negotiation skills, self-agency, and digital literacy skills.

A minimum of 6 million girls and boys are expected to benefit from the project and many more cohorts of students will continue benefiting after the project ends.

“There is no better investment to accelerate Nigeria’s human capital development than to significantly boost girls’ education.

“The AGILE project will enable Nigeria to make progress in improving access and quality of education for girls, especially in northern Nigeria. Addressing the key structural impediments in a comprehensive way will create the enabling environment to help Nigeria ensure better outcomes for girls, which will translate into their ability to contribute to productivity and better economic outcomes for themselves and the country” the release quoted the World Bank Country Director for Nigeria, Shubham Chaudhuri, as saying.

The bank said the ambitious project will support access to secondary education and empowerment for adolescent girls in 7 states: Kano, Kebbi, Kaduna, Katsina, Borno, Plateau, and Ekiti.

“Specifically, the project will benefit about 6.7 million adolescents and 15.5 million direct project beneficiaries will include families and communities in participating states.”

The project has also been adapted to respond to COVID-19 and will support a blended learning approach using technology and media (TV and radio) to implement remote and distance learning programs.

The AGILE project will expand existing primary and Junior Secondary Schools (JSS) to include both JSSs and Senior Secondary Schools to make schools functional, safe, and inclusive to teaching and learning.

This entails building more than 5,500 JSSs and 3,300 classrooms for SSSs, as well as improving 2,786 Junior Secondary and 1,914 Senior Secondary schools with safe, accessible, and inclusive infrastructure. About 340,000 girls will receive life skills training in safe spaces, which will help them navigate challenges in life.

This will incorporate health information and key information on climate change, safety, and gender-based violence awareness. To help girls thrive in the digital economy, 300,000 girls will receive digital literacy training.

It also said the project will offer half a million girls from the poorest households with financial incentives in the form of scholarships to further support their retention and completion of secondary school.

The project will also support raising awareness to address social norms and promote positive behaviours for a supportive and enabling environment for girls’ education using communication and high-level advocacy.

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