Nigeria has experienced robust economic growth since 2001. However, the degree to which this economic achievement has had an impact on progress in human development has been low. Today, about 42 percent of primary-school-age children, or roughly 10.5 million, are out of school. Ninety percent of these out of school children never attended school. In a country as large and diverse as Nigeria, the obstacles to achieving universal basic education are numerous and complex.

Some of the challenges in the education sector include: 

Equality: Huge geographical disparities exist; the percentage of children out of school in the Northeast is 30 times greater than the percentage in the Southeast. Other barriers, including religious beliefs and cultural norms, have prevented many girls from attending school, in particular the country’s North. Also, children are much worse off in the North, where more than two thirds of children who have completed the sixth grade are unable to read.

Enrollment: Delayed entry into primary school results in delayed graduation- on average only 37 percent of students finish primary school at the official primary-school-graduating age of 11. With high levels of poverty and significant opportunity costs, many families are unable to afford sending their children to school.

Infrastructure: Insufficient and ill-maintained school infrastructure, and a lack of appropriate teaching materials and qualified teachers at the primary and pre-primary levels, have contributed to low education outcomes. These constraints are related to broader institutional and financial challenges.

The discussions during the Learning for All Ministerial meetings focused on several interventions: 

  • Quality of primary education through training, on-the-job support for teachers, and textbook/ learning materials provision;
  • Equality of access to a good-quality education by providing financial resources to disadvantaged areas of the North; and
  • Governance and accountability through community-based programs.