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COVID-19 Forces Additional 39 Million Children Out Of School

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…CODE, Malala Fund Task Govt On Inclusive Distance Learning For Students

By Matthew Ogune, Abuja
Closure of schools due to Covid19 pandemic have forced an additional 36million enrolled students out of school.

Country representative at Malala Fund, Crystal Ikanih-Musa disclosed on Friday in Abuja.

This she said was in addition to the over 13.2million children that were already out of school before the pandemic.

Ikanih-Musa who said this at a press conference to launch a report titled: ‘Girls education and Covid-19 in Nigeria regretted that the pandemic was exasperating the girl’s education crisis in Nigeria, warning that “If leaders don’t act now, we risk losing another generation of girls.”

A report presented by Malala Fund which analysed survey data collected from 2,253 respondents in Kaduna state revealed a widening gap for girls learning access during the Covid19 lockdown.

According to the report girls surveyed in Kaduna state experience less access to learning resources, increased domestic burdens and lack of academic support from their families

It further revealed that girl’s in Nigeria face distinct gendered impacts during the pandemic, with over 50 percent of girls receiving no help to continue education during school closure.

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The report stated that the government’s distance learning program did not reach all students, revealing that just 10 percent of girls and 24 percent of boys accessed distance learning offered via television and only 18 percent of children used radio for study while two percent used mobiles.

The data also showed that, while mothers supported boys and girls, father’s were 36 percent more likely to assist their son’s learning than their daughters, adding that in general, boys were more than twice as likely to have access to a private tutor during the pandemic.

The report further documented insufficient government guidance on how to ensure that girl’s in lower socio-economic and conflict states will re-enroll in school when the pandemic is over.

Malala Fund Champion and Program manager at Restoration of Hope Initiative, Benjamin John disclosed that his interaction with many families during the lockdown revealed that financial constraints will be a major factor in the decision to re-enroll girls in school due to dwindling income.

In his recommendation, Connected Development (CODE), Executive Director, Hamzat Lawal urged the government to provide gender-equitable and inclusive distance learning to support all students through current and future school closure.

Lawal further called on the government to ensure safe, gender-responsive reopening plans across the country.

He also stressed the need to protect progress for girls education and rebuild the education system with gender at the centre to promote inclusive growth and ensure every girl can learn.

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