North still lagging behind in Western education – Survey
According to the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS 4) summary report that was recently released, the North West and North East zones of Nigeria have very low literacy rates of 32 and 37 percents respectively as against higher rate of at least 89 percent in each of zones in the South. Also, school attendance is still low in the country particularly among secondary school age children.
This alarming revelation has further confirmed the backwardness of the North in the pursuit of Western education compared to the southern part of the country. The MICS was carried out in 2011 and, given the increasing insurgency in the region, the worst is yet to be seen as the nation prepares for another round of MICS this year. MICS is conducted every three years with Nigeria having already taken part in four rounds, in 1995, 1999, 2007 and 2011.
The growing insurgency in the region has seriously affected teaching and learning as close to 800 classrooms have been lost with more students having classes under trees and makeshift canopies just as teachers are relocating to safer places in fear for their lives. This also portends great danger for the region as regards Western education pursuit.
With abduction of about 200 students of GGSS, Chibok in Borno State allegedly by the insurgents on Monday night, no one can assertain the fate of the region as far as pursuit of Western education is concerned.
MICS are survey programmes developed by the United Nations Children’s Fund to provide internationally comparable, statistically rigorous data on the situation of children and women.
In Nigeria, the surveys were carried out by the National Bureau of Statistics with the support and assistance of UNICEF and other development partners.
Overall, in Nigeria, about 66 percent of young women aged 15-24 years are literate. The literacy level of women living in the poorest households is as low as 22 percent which is in contrast to the literacy rate of 94 percent among women in the richest households. Similarly, the percentage of literate women is higher in the urban areas with 86 percent while that in the rural areas is 54 percent.
However, inequities exist for primary level as 87 percent of urban children of primary age are in school as against 62 percent for the rural. However these inequities are at their highest between the poorest households (34 percent of children are in primary) and the richest (94 percent of children at primary school). For instance, 70 percent of children of primary school age (6-11 years) are attending primary school and only 54 percent of children of secondary school age (1217 years) are attending secondary school.
Mother education was also identified as an important factor for birth registration. Indeed, two thirds of children under 5 whose mothers have at least secondary education level have been registered at birth compared to 21 percent of children whose mothers have no education.
At a recent summit on education, the nation’s adult literacy rate was put at 61% and a low level of tertiary enrolment, which was 10% in 2010 and was identified as a threat to the ability of Nigeria to become the 20th largest economy in the world by 2020. This was in comparison with Kenya that has an adult literacy rate of 87%, Egypt of 72% and Ghana 67%.
Similarly, Nigerian data on school enrolment falls far behind that of comparable African economies and our drop-out rates are higher. Thus, primary school enrolment in Nigeria currently stands at 83%, dropping to 44% at the secondary school level and 10% at the tertiary level. In Egypt, primary enrolment is 100%, dropping to 85% at the secondary level and 30.4% at the tertiary level.
The MICS4 data as regards to the education sector is to enable the country to better monitor progress toward national goals and global commitments, including 20 of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) as the target year 2015 approaches.
The survey which is highly comparable to the Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) is aimed at providing up-to-date information for assessing the situation of children and women in Nigeria; to furnish data needed for monitoring progress toward goals established in the Millennium Declaration and other internationally agreed goals, as a basis for future action.
Also, it is to contribute to the improvement of data and monitoring systems of countries and strengthen technical expertise in the design, implementation and analysis of such systems; as well as generate data on the situation of children and women, including the identification of vulnerable groups and of disparities, to inform policies and interventions.