Challenges Facing the Right to Education in Nigeria

Challenges Facing the Right to Education in Nigeria

Michael K. Bielonwu, MCIArb.,
Jeremiah E. Aneji, MIDR.
C. B. Opara, Esq.
Chioma S. Nmezi, Esq.

Nigeria faces numerous challenges in ensuring every child has access to quality education. Despite legislative frameworks and policies guaranteeing the right to education, various obstacles hinder their effective implementation. Some of the challenges are as follows:

1. Access and Enrollment Issues:
Out-of-School Children: Many Nigerian children are out of school. According to UNICEF, approximately 10.5 million children aged 5-14 are not attending school in Nigeria, and factors such as poverty, child labour, and early marriage contribute to this issue.

Geographical Disparities: Children in Nigeria’s rural and remote areas face more difficulties accessing education than their urban counterparts due to fewer schools and longer travel distances.

2. Quality of Education:
Inadequate Infrastructure: Many schools lack essential facilities such as classrooms, libraries, laboratories, and toilets. Other issues, such as overcrowded classrooms, are common and negatively impact the learning environment.

Insufficient Teaching Materials: There is a chronic shortage of textbooks, teaching aids, and other learning materials, which undermines the quality of education in Nigeria.

Teacher Shortages and Training: The education sector is facing a shortage of qualified teachers. In addition, many existing teachers lack sufficient training and professional development opportunities. Moreover, in Nigeria, the process of selecting individuals to become teachers is flawed. For example, entrance exams for Colleges of Education in Nigeria are structured to send the lowest-performing candidates to these colleges while the top performers are admitted to universities. This creates a perception that bright students are not meant to become teachers, deterring them from pursuing a career in teaching.

3. Funding and Resource Allocation:
Underfunding: Education in Nigeria is significantly underfunded. The national budget allocation for education often falls short of the 26% recommended by UNESCO. This lack of funding affects all aspects of the educational system, from infrastructure to teacher salaries. Nigeria seems not to understand that no country can rise or develop above her level or quality of education.

Inefficient Use of Resources: Corruption and mismanagement of funds exacerbate the problem, leading to inefficient use of the limited resources.

4. Security Challenges:
Insurgency and Conflict: In regions like the North-East, insurgency by groups such as Boko Haram has severely disrupted educational activities. Schools have been targeted in attacks, leading to closures and declining school attendance. We have also seen bandits and other terrorist groups invade schools and kidnap students for ransom.
Displacement: Conflict and violence have displaced many families, making it difficult for displaced children to attend school regularly.

5. Socio-cultural Barriers:
Gender Disparities: Cultural norms in some areas prioritise boys’ education over girls’, leading to higher dropout rates among female students. Early marriage and teenage pregnancy also contribute to the discontinuation of education for many girls.
Child Labor: Economic pressures force many children into labour to support their families, preventing them from attending school.

6. Policy Implementation and Governance:
Policy Gaps and Implementation Issues: While Nigeria has robust policies on paper, like the Universal Basic Education program and provisions under the Child Rights Act that prioritise child education, there is often a gap between policy and practice. Weak enforcement mechanisms and a lack of accountability hinder effective implementation.

Bureaucratic Inefficiencies: Bureaucratic red tape and inefficiencies within the education sector contribute to delays and obstacles in policy execution.

7. Health and Nutrition:
Malnutrition: Poor nutrition affects children’s cognitive development and school performance. School feeding programs are not widespread enough to mitigate this issue. Where the government has made efforts, corrupt officials often divert such funds to personal use.

Health Issues: Children suffering from health problems, such as malaria and other preventable diseases, face higher absenteeism and lower academic performance.



To address these challenges, we need a comprehensive and coordinated approach that involves increased funding, improved infrastructure, enhanced teacher training, and community engagement. Tackling socio-cultural barriers and ensuring security in conflict-prone areas are also crucial steps. By addressing these issues, Nigeria can make significant strides toward realising the right to education for all its children, thereby fostering national development and social progress.