The World Bank Board of Directors on Wednesday approved a $500m credit from the International Development Association for the Adolescent Girls Initiative for Learning and Empowerment, to improve secondary education opportunities among girls in targeted areas.
The World Bank said the project would support access to secondary education and empowerment for adolescent girls in seven states which are Kano, Kebbi, Kaduna, Katsina, Borno, Plateau and Ekiti.
The bank said this in a statement titled, “Nigeria to boost support for keeping adolescent girls in school.”
It stated that adolescent girls face many constraints in accessing and completing secondary education.
In northern Nigeria, it added, the lack of secondary schools was significantly greater with up to 10 primary schools for every secondary school.
It stated, “Poor condition of infrastructure and a lack of water sanitation and hygiene (WASH) facilities makes it difficult for girls to stay in school.
“In addition, close to 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.
“All 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.”
The World Bank said AGILE project would use secondary school as a platform to empower girls through education, life skills, health education ( such as nutrition, reproductive health) GBV awareness and prevention, negotiations skills, self-agency and digital literacy skills.
It stated that a minimum of six million girls and boys were expected to benefit from the project and many more cohorts of students would continue benefiting after the project ends.
World Bank Country Director for Nigeria, Shubham Chaudhuri, said, “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.”
Specifically, the project would benefit about 6.7 million adolescents and 15.5 million direct project beneficiaries would include families and communities in participating states.
The project had also been adapted to respond to COVID-19 and would support a blended learning approach using technology and media (TV and radio) to implement remote and distance learning programmes.
World Bank stated that the AGILE project would expand existing primary and Junior Secondary Schools 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,” it stated.
The bank said about 340,000 girls would receive life skills training in safe spaces, which would help them navigate challenges in life.
This, it added, would incorporate health information and key information on climate change, safety and gender-based violence awareness.
To help girls thrive in the digital economy, it added, 300,000 girls would receive digital literacy trainings.
Additionally, it added, the project would 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.
It would also support raising awareness to address social norms and promote positive behaviors for a supportive and enabling environment for girls’ education using communication and high-level advocacy, it stated.
The World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA), established in 1960, helps the world’s poorest countries by providing grants and low to zero-interest loans for projects and programmes that boost economic growth, reduce poverty, and improve poor people’s lives.