Educational Challenges in Sierra Leone

Written by Luna A. Duran van Tijn


Over the last few decades, Sierra Leone has faced numerous setbacks. Between 1991 and 2002, Sierra Leone was witness to the devastating Sierra Leone Civil War (Ozisik 2015). 1,270 elementary schools were destroyed and 67% of all school-age students were forced out of school in 2001 as a result (ibid). A decade later, in 2012, Ebola struck Sierra Leone, leading to the closure of schools for at least nine months (Son, 2016). The nation has now stabilized and is trying to realize its potential (O’Neill 2014: 44). However, around 70% of people in Sierra Leone continue to live in poverty. This has led many children to work rather than attend school (ibid). In this context, it does not help that there are supply and space shortages, high student-to-teacher ratios and the lack of qualification and training of teachers. Additionally, an educational environment that disproportionately affects girls due to young pregnancies, child marriage, gender-based violence and cultural biases respectively. This, among other confounding factors, has laid a foundation for serious setbacks in the Sierra Leonean educational system, such as low enrollment rates, poor educational standards, and a gendered education gap. These factors are explored in this article.

School in Sierra Leone. Photo by Rokaso.

Setting the scene

The educational system in Sierra Leone has three basic levels: primary, junior secondary and senior secondary (Ozisik 2015). Primary school consists of six years, until the age of twelve, which are free for all. Between the ages of twelve and fifteen students enroll in junior secondary schools (ibid). After that, for children aged between fifteen and eighteen, students enroll in senior secondary schools (ibid). At this level, students choose whether they wish to continue their academic education by proceeding to university or focusing on vocational training instead (ibid). Regarding the first, there are two options available to students in Sierra Leone who want to pursue higher education: Njala University and the University of Sierra Leone (ibid). For vocational education programmes, agriculture is the primary subject of study, followed by skills in mechanics, carpentry, and bricklaying (ibid).

Challenges and their causes

Low attendance rates

First, only about 6% of children attended pre-primary school in 2011, meaning very few children got the foundations for learning and education (O’Neill 2014: 48-50). The primary school enrollment rate is high for males, around 100%, although much lower for females, around 70% (ibid). However, the completion rate for primary school is only about 71% for females and 76% for males (ibid). After primary school enrollment the numbers decrease drastically. Secondary school enrollment is about one-third of that of primary school enrollment (ibid). Even worse, tertiary school enrollment is just a few per cent, with the highest percentage of enrollment being 3% for men and 1% for women (ibid). This incredibly low rate of young people continuing their education demonstrates that education in Sierra Leone is neither a top priority nor an objective that most people value (ibid). This data is from 2001, following the Civil War (ibid).

In Sierra Leone, many children drop out or do not attend school for several reasons. Although many factors influence the low enrollment and high dropout rates in Sierra Leone, such as “living situations (presence of parents), location, gender, religion, cost, teen pregnancy, and early marriage” the article “The Out-of-school Children of Sierra Leone” by UNICEF (2008) argues that the main reason for children not being in school is poverty (Coinco 2008: 4). Due to the pervasive poverty, 87% of Sierra Leonean children decide to work instead of attend school, stating that they would “rather work and get paid than sit in school and be hungry” (ibid). In many cases, children are forced to work rather than attend school (O’Neill 2014: 50). For many families, children are seen as another source of income and are forced into manual labour at a young age (ibid). In line with this, many kids cannot attend school because their families simply cannot afford it (idem: 50-51). Despite the government taking steps to decrease or eliminate costs connected with attending school, many schools still require payment for services (ibid). In fact, 37% of the families who pay for their kids’ education say they struggle to do so (ibid). These two factors demonstrate that many children’s inability to attend school is mostly a result of poverty.

Low-quality education

A “Report on Basic Education in Sierra Leone”, prepared by The Campaign for Good Governance (CGG) (2006), found several factors that threaten the quality of education in Sierra Leone (O’Neill 2014: 45-46). These include supply and space shortages, high teacher-pupil ratios and the lack of qualification and training of teachers (ibid).

The past educational system in Sierra Leone was not prepared for the rapid increase in enrollment of children that would occur after the end of the Civil War (idem: 51). Although this increase was a positive development, it also resulted in supply and space shortages that made class sizes too large and simultaneously created higher pupil to teacher ratios (ibid). Due to the shortage in supplies, it is not uncommon for multiple students to share a single book for instance (Ozisik 2015). Moreover, higher student-to-teacher ratio results in less individualized learning time with the teacher (O’Neill 2014: 52). Spending time with the teacher in-person can frequently be a crucial component of understanding and learning (ibid). Without as much one-on-one time, a student can fall behind or feel lost, which would make it more difficult for them to learn fundamental skills (ibid). Additionally, larger classrooms make it more difficult for the teacher to educate, especially if the students are all at various levels of understanding (ibid).

A high student-to-teacher ratio is made even worse when taken into consideration with the reality that many teachers lack the necessary training (ibid). Since there are so few qualified teachers available, many school systems are forced to hire unqualified instructors (ibid). In fact, more than 40% of primary school teachers are untrained (Ozisik 2015). Untrained teachers might not be delivering the right lessons, they might not know how to manage huge classes of kids, and they might not know how to adapt their teaching methods to fit diverse learning types (O’Neill 2014: 52). There is also a good likelihood that Sierra Leonean native teachers did not finish primary school or go on to intermediate or university education (ibid).

It is simple to understand why Sierra Leonean children decide to take different pathways than that of education when there are so many things working against them, from a lack of resources to the large student-to-teacher ratio and their presumable inexperience (ibid). These kids and their families must put enormous work into keeping children in school for so little in return (ibid).

Children learn and play at the UNICEF-Supported Child Friendly Space at Sierra Leone’s National Stadium. Photo by UNICEF Sierra Leone.
Gendered education gap

The educational environment that disproportionately affects girls is a prevalent and particularly relevant issue that continues to affect education in Sierra Leone. Despite improvements in their access to education, a lack of class completion, high dropout rates, and continually low secondary enrollment persist for girls. The cycle of gender inequity is fueled by young pregnancies, child marriage, gender-based violence and cultural biases.

 Sierra Leone is responsible for one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the world, a phenomenon that is largely responsible for the high incidence of female dropouts (Ozisik 2015). In fact, the country’s education ministry has decidedly prohibited pregnant girls from attending school, under claims that they would be unable to perform well in class (Son 2016). The ministry argued that exposing pregnant girls to classmates would humiliate them and encourage others to become pregnant (ibid).

In Sierra Leone, girls frequently are married as young as age 11, and more than 60% of females nationwide are married before the age of 18 (Ozisik 2015). Early marriage makes it even more difficult for these females to pursue education and independence (ibid).

Furthermore, there is a strong gender disparity brought about by a strong bias that prioritizes male education and subverses that of girls (ibid). The reality is that girls in Sierra Leone are frequently instructed to stay home and take care of household chores while their brothers go to school (ibid). The general challenges articulated so far, namely supply and space shortages, high pupil-to-teacher ratios and the lack of qualification of teachers, have already made it challenging enough for all children to enroll in school (ibid). In an environment that has a dominant preference for boys’ education, the education of girls is made virtually impossible (ibid).


Overall, low enrollment rates, poor educational standards and a gendered education gap remain challenges for children trying to pursue quality education in Sierra Leone. These factors are compounded by problems ranging from poverty, to supply and space shortages, high student-to-teacher ratios and the lack of qualification and training of teachers, as well as young pregnancies, child marriage, gender-based violence and cultural biases.

Reference list

Ozisik, S. (2015). “Education in Sierra Leone”, The Borgen Project, Consulted on May 24th, 2023.

Son, P. (2016). “Education in Sierra Leone: Gender Inequality After Ebola”, The Borgen Project,,in%20Sierra%20Leone%27s%20education%20system. Consulted on May 24th, 2023.

O’Neill, R. (2014). Perpetuating a Vicious Cycle: The Causes and Effects of Poorly Educated Children in Sierra Leone. Global Majority E-Journal, 5(1): 44-56.

Coinco, E., Khatete, D. and Obdura, A. (2008). “The Out-of-school Children of Sierra Leone”, UNICEF, ne_012009.pdf. Consulted on May 24th, 2023.

UNICEF Sierra Leone (2022). “Education”, Consulted on May 24th, 2023.

118.5 million girls out of school

Written by Asha Ouni

Education is a fundamental human right that should be accessible to everyone, regardless of their gender or social status. Unfortunately, millions of girls around the world are still denied access to education, which has long-term consequences not only for themselves but also for their families, communities, and countries. According to recent statistics, approximately 118.5 million girls worldwide are out of school, and this number continues to grow.[1]

Girls attending classes. Photo by Pexels.

The reasons for girls dropping out of school vary from region to region, but they are usually rooted in poverty, cultural norms, gender discrimination, and conflict.[2] In many developing countries, families cannot afford to send all their children to school, and they prioritize boys’ education over girls. Girls are often expected to marry early, take care of household chores, or work to support their families, which further reduces their chances of attending school. Moreover, girls may face discrimination and harassment in schools, which leads to higher dropout rates.

The consequences of girls’ lack of education are severe and far-reaching. Girls who drop out of school are more likely to marry early, have children at a young age, and experience poverty and ill-health. They have limited economic opportunities and are more vulnerable to violence, abuse, and exploitation. Their lack of education also affects their children’s well-being and perpetuates the cycle of poverty and inequality.[3]

Investing in girls’ education is not only a matter of human rights, but it also benefits society as a whole. Educated girls are more likely to become productive members of society, contribute to economic growth, and participate in civic and political life. They are also more likely to have healthy children and break the intergenerational cycle of poverty.[4]

We know that if you get girls into schools and keep them there, you can change the course of a nation.

Her Majesty Queen Rania Al-Abdullah, June 2007.

To address the issue of girls’ education, governments, NGOs, and communities must work together to create enabling environments that promote girls’ enrollment, retention, and completion in schools. This includes providing financial support, reducing gender-based violence, increasing girls’ safety and security, and addressing social and cultural norms that limit girls’ access to education.

In conclusion, the fact that 118.5 million girls are out of school is a stark reminder of the urgent need to invest in girls’ education. It is not only a matter of human rights, but also a matter of social and economic development. By ensuring that girls have access to quality education, we can break the cycle of poverty and inequality, empower girls and women, and create a brighter future for all.

Want to know how you can help? Visit for more information.

[1] UNESCO, “Connected, inclusive and green: how UNESCO wants to transform education”, (accessed 16/05/23).

[2] World Bank Group, “Educate Girls: Improving the Quality and Outcomes of Girls’ Learning”, April 2017, p. 6, available at: (accessed 16/05/23).

[3] R. Hagues & S. Helms McCarty, “The Consequences of Forcing Pregnant Girls Out of School”, Journal of Human Rights and Social Work, 2020, vol. 7, p. 23.

[4] Harvard Kennedy School, “Investing in girls’ education”, September 2017, p. 7, available at: (accessed 16/05/23).

Girl’s education in South Sudan

Written by Agnes Amaral

The reality of girl’s education in South Sudan must be understood not simply in the context on lack of gender inequality but within a system of class domination based on wartime predation. South Sudan only recently gained independence in July of 2011. There are a lot of implications of wartime and post-war resource capture that overcome education infrastructure now. The civil war increased social inequality and created new social relations in which elites gained substantial power, enabling them to maintain the status quo. 

This formation illustrates how corruption became part of the political system and brought forward problems that affect today’s education system in South Sudan. Principally considering one of the main problems is that the education system is stressed by a lack of school infrastructure and teaching materials, as well as the limited number of qualified teachers. Another problem related to income inequality is the expenses the educational system does not cover. Although education is technically free, families are expected to pay additional fees if they want their children to receive an education—for example, textbooks and uniforms. 

Monica in a classroom in Oxfam’s girls’ education project, Bahr el Ghazal, South Sudan. Photo by Laura Pannack, Oxfam East Africa.


Education is a key determinant for overcoming inequality on a global scale. Post civil war, South Sudan became a subsistence agriculture economy to survive. Children were included in this process and expected to work in order to maintain the household. That is a problem since they don’t have enough time to attend school and school activities. 

Half of the country’s population is in extreme poverty. Work functions as a form of immediate sustenance, taking away education as a fair opportunity. Additionally, there is a low employment in the country. For this reason, most jobs are tied to agriculture and services, children are part of this labor force.

A deficit of government investments in education also accentuates the problem in the country. Only 30% of the population can read and write, according to World Population Review in 20191.

Not only is access to education a problem but consistent enrollment of students in school. Most children cannot complete the primary school cycle. This is due to  financial difficulties and poor infrastructure. Some students must walk more than 3km a day to get to school. This makes leaving school a viable alternative.


These forms of oppression affect women even more. Many girls and women abandon school to perform a common cultural reality in this country, for example, early marriage. Gender inequality directly affects teachers too. According to UNICEF, in 2006, only seven percent of teachers were women.

South Sudan has a conservative ideology promoting the negative perception of women and girls. Women don’t have access to property ownership, and this makes marriage an option to survive. It is a cultural aspect that reflects in all spheres of South Sudanese society. Marriage confines girls into a dependency system because it is the primary source of income. They are expected to labor in domestic chores and have almost no time to dedicate to educational growth. 

Many girls spend their childhood and adolescence carrying water, cooking, cleaning and caring for babies, leaving no opportunity to study and further their education. Education is essential aspect to successfully break down these barriers. Especially an egalitarian education that reduces gender inequality.

Recently, Pope Francis spoke out about the fact that many girls do not make it to secondary education in South Sudan. “Please, protect, respect, appreciate and honor every woman, every girl, young woman, mother, and grandmother. Otherwise, there will be no future” (Reuters) The event brought together religious people and a humanitarian, Sara Beysolow Nyanti, to discuss the protection of women and girls in the country.

Education is a very important agenda. Since it is recognised as an opportunity for  girls and women to access other realities. Not only financial realities but cultural realities that evoke the gender role socially.

The leadership of women who fight for their rights is evidenced, since the challenges they all face, such as forced marriage, lack of school infrastructure, low income, etc., are varied. Although South Sudan offers free education, it is possible to conclude that there are several obstacles to improving the quality of life of these girls. Several studies show how less than half the population attended school, a number that decreases when the cut-off is by gender. Many girls work in agricultural activities to support the household. The confrontation of this problem must be thought through in several arenas. More than just guaranteeing free education, recognising and fighting child labor as a determinant of poverty is necessary. Investments in education must be recognised in the mitigation of gender inequality in order for the future generations to enjoy the benefits that education brings to society.

Education Challenges for Girls in Niger: A Critical Analysis

Written by Frida Brekk

Niger, a landlocked country in West Africa, faces significant challenges in providing quality education to its population, particularly girls. Despite efforts to improve education in recent years, Niger ranks among the countries with the highest gender disparity in education. This article aims to explore the educational challenges faced by girls in Niger, examining the factors contributing to the gender gap and discussing the implications for the overall development of the nation.

Students in physics class. Makalondi Secondary School, Makalondi, Tilaberri Region, Niger. Photo by GPE/Kelley Lynch

Limited access to education is one of the primary challenges for girls in Niger. According to a report by The Guardian, Niger ranks among the ten worst countries for girls to receive an education. Factors contributing to this include early marriage and pregnancy; high rates of child marriage and early pregnancy often force girls to drop out of school, as societal norms prioritize early marriage over education, distance and infrastructure as remote rural areas lack proper school infrastructure, making it difficult for girls to access educational institutions, poverty and financial barriers; economic constraints often prevent families from sending their daughters to school, as they struggle to cover basic needs and associated education costs, security concerns; instances of conflict and instability limit educational opportunities for girls, particularly in areas affected by violence and displacement.

Girls in Niger also face discrimination and unequal treatment within the education system due to gender disparity. This discrimination manifests in various forms, including social differences. Traditional gender roles and cultural norms often dictate that girls prioritize domestic duties and caregiving over education, reinforcing gender inequalities. Lack of female teachers; shortage of female teachers in Niger makes it challenging for girls to find role models and receive guidance, contributing to the gender gap in education. And instances of gender-based violence, such as sexual harassment and assault, create hostile learning environments for girls, impacting their educational participation and achievement.

Another main concern is the quality of education in Niger. Even for girls who manage to access education, the quality of schooling remains a significant concern, and there are many factors affecting the quality of education in Niger. Schools often lack basic infrastructure, teaching materials, and resources, affecting the quality of instruction and learning outcomes for both girls and boys. Inadequate resources in the education system pose a significant concern for the overall quality of education and have particular implications for girls in Niger. Gender bias in curriculum materials and teaching practices may reinforce gender stereotypes and perpetuate biases, limiting girls’ educational opportunities. Additionally, insufficient training and support for teachers, particularly in addressing gender disparities, hampers the delivery of inclusive and gender-responsive education.

The challenges girls face in accessing quality education in Niger have profound implications for individual well-being, social progress, and the country’s overall development. Addressing these challenges requires a multi-faceted approach, inclusive of policy reforms, investment in infrastructure, empowerment and awareness, and teacher training and support. To effectively promote gender equality in education, the government of Niger must prioritize policies and initiatives that address gender-based discrimination and societal barriers. Enhancing educational infrastructure, particularly in remote areas, is crucial to improving access to education for girls. Insufficient educational infrastructure in remote regions poses significant barriers. Community awareness campaigns are vital in challenging societal norms and promoting positive attitudes towards this issue. And finally, providing comprehensive training and support for teachers, focusing on gender-responsive pedagogy, can improve the quality of education and promote gender equality in schools.

By acknowledging and actively addressing the challenges mentioned above, Niger can undertake a transformative journey towards establishing an education system that is inclusive and equitable, thereby empowering girls and fostering the holistic development of the nation.

This education system entails implementing a range of effective strategies, including but not limited to policy reforms, infrastructure investments, empowerment initiatives, and teacher training programs. By adopting this comprehensive approach, Niger can strive towards an educational landscape where girls have equal access to quality education, where gender disparities are minimized, and where the potential of all individuals is harnessed to drive progress and prosperity at both the individual and societal levels.


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Educational Challenges in Palestine

Written by Mayeda Tayyab

Photo by Jorge Fernández Salas on Unsplash

Education is a human right that should be accessible to all individuals, regardless of their circumstances. In Palestine, the quality and accessibility of education have been significantly impacted by ongoing occupation and colonization, political instability, and economic challenges. This article will discuss the current state of education in Palestine, focusing on the quality and accessibility of education. The article will also explore the challenges that students and educators face and examine some of the initiatives that have been implemented to improve the quality and accessibility of education in Palestine.

The Palestinian territories include the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, which are geographically separated from each other. The Palestinian National Authority (PNA) is responsible for the education system in the West Bank, while Hamas controls the education system in Gaza. In the last 27 years, Palestinian educators have had to overcome severe problems due to the Israeli occupation[1] – including but not limited to frequent closures of educational institutions and the banning of textbooks and other educational materials. Education in Palestine is compulsory and free for children between the ages of six and fifteen. In 2018 UNICEF reported that across the state of Palestine, 95.4 percent of children were enrolled in formal education[2]. However, out of all the children in school in Palestine, nearly 25 percent of boys and 7 percent of girls drop out after the age of 15[3]. Furthermore, 22.5 percent of boys and 30 percent of girls with a disability, between the ages of 6 and 15 years, have never enrolled in school[4]. This is due to increasing poverty and the Israeli occupation of Palestine which has a significant impact on the accessibility and the quality of education available to children.

Quality of Education

The quality of education in Palestine has been greatly affected by the ongoing occupation, colonization, and political instability. During the first 10 years of the Israeli occupation, no new schools were built in Palestine, significantly hindering the expansion of educational facilities in the region, and resulting in the decline of the number of educators available in contrast to the increasing population[5]. Due to the lack in the number of educational facilities and thus educational staff, classrooms have become overcrowded with up to 40 to 60 students in a single classroom, making it difficult for teachers to provide individual attention and support to each student[6]. This can result in students falling behind and struggling to keep up with their peers.

According to a report by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization[7], the shortage of resources and facilities is another one of the main challenges facing education in Palestine. Many schools lack basic amenities such as textbooks, computers, and laboratories, and many teachers are not properly trained and do not have access to modern teaching methods and technologies. Lack of funding and the banning of books and educational materials limit the resources available to students in school libraries[8]. Many extracurricular activities which are essential for the social and cultural development of students have been banned by Israeli authorities. Due to this lack of facilities, almost half the Palestinian children in East Jerusalem are forced to attend private or unofficial educational institutions[9].

The quality of education in Palestine is also affected by the lack of political stability and safety in the region. According to a report by Save the Children (2020)[10], the ongoing conflict and political instability have resulted in frequent school closures and disruptions to the academic calendar, leading to students missing out on valuable classroom time and falling behind in their studies. Almost half a million children in Palestine require humanitarian assistance to access quality education[11]. There are frequent closures of the Gaza Strip, and West Bank – including East Jerusalem – during times of violent attacks by Israel, restricting any physical access to daily activities and essential services such as health care, water, and education[12]. Children also regularly experience fear of violence and intimidation as they must frequently pass through checkpoints or commute by settlements to get to schools located in high-risk areas[13].

Accessibility of Education

The accessibility of education in Palestine is affected by several factors. According to a report by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) (2021)[14], one of the main factors affecting accessibility is the physical separation between the West Bank and Gaza. This separation makes it difficult for students to move between the two regions and can result in students missing out on educational opportunities and resources that are only available in one region. Children usually must travel long distances to get to school. A parent talking about his 10-year-old son living in the Shuafat refugee camp said that his son spends four hours each day traveling to and from school for the monthly cost of £85, while his other child takes a three-hour journey to a different school[15]. As discussed earlier, the impact of the Israeli occupation on access to education is also a significant factor. According to a report by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) (2021)[16], students and teachers often face checkpoints, roadblocks, and other obstacles. In some cases, schools have been closed or destroyed during military operations, resulting in the displacement of students and teachers.

Palestinian girls at a school in Ramallah. – Photo by Samar Hazboun, UNWomen

The economic situation in Palestine also affects the accessibility of education. According to UNICEF (2018), many families struggle to afford the costs associated with education, such as transportation, school supplies, and uniforms[17]. This can result in children being unable to attend school or dropping out early. Financial difficulties are one of the primary reasons for Palestinian children dropping out of school. However, children in Palestine also face many other serious issues such as child labor (3% of the total number of children between the ages of 10-17 years were found to be taking on paid and unpaid labor work), early marriages (out of all the marriages registered in 2018, 20% were of girls under the age of 18), and imprisonment (in 2019, 889 cases of detention of children under the age of 18 in Israeli prisons were reported[18].

Furthermore, access to education is particularly challenging for girls and children with disabilities. While there has been some progress in recent years, cultural and social barriers continue to prevent many girls from attending school. According to UNICEF, the net enrollment rate for girls in primary education in Palestine is 96%, compared to 98% for boys[19]. An example of this is early marriage as highlighted above. In contrast of 20% of marriages reported in 2018 involved girls under 18, and only 1% of these marriages included boys under the age of 18. This shows the lack of importance given to the education of women and girls compared to those of boys and men, who might be experiencing societal and familial pressures to get married and start families at the prime age for receiving secondary and higher education. In addition, children with disabilities face numerous barriers to accessing education, including the lack of specialized facilities and trained teachers.

Efforts to Improve the Quality and Accessibility of Education

Efforts to improve the quality and accessibility of education in Palestine have focused on increasing access to educational resources and reducing the financial burden on families. According to a report by the Palestinian Ministry of Education and Higher Education[20], the government has implemented policies aimed at providing free education and increasing access to scholarships and financial aid. NGOs and international organizations have also provided support for the development of new schools and the renovation of existing schools, as well as providing teaching materials and training for teachers. Although there is still a long way to tackle societal and political issues that are hindering access to education for children in Palestine and threatening their safety, steps are being taken to at least find solutions to economic struggles.


In conclusion, the quality and accessibility of education in Palestine are significantly impacted by ongoing conflict, political instability, and economic challenges. Palestinian students and educators face numerous challenges that affect the quality of education they receive, including a shortage of resources and facilities, high student-to-teacher ratios, frequent school closures and disruptions to academic life, and the general threat to their physical safety. Although efforts are being made to tackle the economic issues and developing proper infrastructure for educational institutions, the safety threat and issues related to the ongoing colonization of Palestine will continue to persist until the achievement of permanent political stability in the region.




[1] Abu-Duhou, I. (1996). Schools in Palestine under the Occupation and the Palestinian National Authority. Palestine-Israel Journal of Politics, Economics and Culture, 3(1). Available at:

[2] UNICEF. (2018). State of Palestine: Out-of-school children. Available at:  

[3] See footnote 2.

[4] see footnote 2.

[5] See footnote 1

[6] See footnote 1

[7] UNESCO. (2020). Education in Palestine. Available from

[8] See footnote 1

[9] Sherwood, H. (2010). Palestinian children in East Jerusalem face classroom shortage, says report. Available at:

[10] Save the Children. (2020). Danger is Our Reality: The impact of conflict and the occupation on education in the West Bank of the occupied Palestinian territory. Retrieved from:

[11] OCHA. (2017). Occupied Palestinian Territory: Humanitarian Needs Overview 2018, November 2017. Available at:

[12] See footnote 2

[13] See footnote 2

[14] UNRWA. (2021). Annual Operational Report 2021. Retrieved from:

[15] See footnote 9

[16] International Committee of the Red Cross. (2021). ICRC Annual report 2021. Available at:

[17] See footnote 2

[18] Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics. (2020). Palestine. Available at:

[19] See footnote 2

[20] Ministry of Education and Higher Education. (2017). Education Sector Strategic Plan 2017-2022. Available at:

Educational Challenges in Nigeria

Written by Emmanuel Ayoola

Nigeria, the most populous country in Africa[i] is plagued with serious educational challenges. With over 10.5 million out-of-school children, Nigeria takes the spot as the country with the highest number of out-of-school children in the world. In fact, out of every five out-of-school children in the world, one is a Nigerian.[ii] In every sense, the situation is a crisis.

The factors responsible for the educational challenges in Nigeria are numerous and hydra-headed. From weak legislations to the scourge of conflicts and terrorism, to socio-cultural challenges, lack of inclusive policies and inadequate commitment from the government, the list is almost endless.

To start with, there is a fundamental problem with the Nigerian Constitution vis-à-vis the right to education. Despite the fact that Nigeria has ratified some of the several international instruments that provide for the right to education, its own grundnorm – the 1999 constitution (as amended) however, makes the right to education non-justiciable. Section 18 of the constitution provides that the:

  • Government shall direct its policy towards ensuring that there are equal and adequate educational opportunities at all levels.
  • Government shall promote science and technology
  • Government shall strive to eradicate illiteracy; and to this end Government shall as and when practicable provide:
  1. free, compulsory and universal primary education; b) free secondary education; c) free university education; and d) free adult literacy programme.

While the above provision may appear sufficient, however under the constitution, it is provided for as principles of state policy under chapter 2. In effect, the right to education although aptly provided for, lacks the force of law as it is not justiciable. In other words, it cannot be enforced by law. This disguised immunity that protects the government from being held accountable by right holders for the protection of the right to education contributes to the crises at hand.

Another of the challenges that education in Nigeria suffer from involves acts of terrorism that are targeted directly at educational institutions and those that are targeted at communities which in turn, impacts access to education in such communities.

Reports show that in north-east Nigeria between 2009 and 2022, more than 2,295 teachers were killed in attacks by insurgents which saw 19,000 people displaced and over 910 schools destroyed.[iii]

man in white crew neck t-shirt sitting beside man in white t-shirt

Photo by Emmanuel Ikwuegbu on Unsplash

In 2021 alone, 25 schools were attacked and 1,440 students were abducted and 16 children killed. Attacks of this nature no doubt led to the closure of some schools. At least 619 schools were shut down in 6 states in northern Nigeria over fears of attack and this resulted into over 600,000 children losing access to education.[iv] This has been one of the most severe challenges that has confronted access to education in Nigeria.

More also, cultural and social implications impact access to education in Nigeria. Most affected in this regard, are young girls. The girl-child in Nigeria often has to contend with lack of access to education. For instance, in the north of Nigeria, practices like forced and early marriages deprive girls of access to education. Girls in the south of Nigeria, in like manner also contend with cultural practices that limits their access to education.[v] Boys suffer their own share too as they experience a high drop-out rate –especially boys in south – eastern Nigeria.[vi]

Another group of people who similarly suffer a disadvantage of lack of access to education in Nigeria are persons living with disability (PWDs). Although, Nigeria has ratified the United Nations Convention on rights of Persons with Disabilities which expressly provides that schools must be inclusive and accessible to all children living with disabilities, Nigeria has failed to meet required standards for the protection of this right. This unfortunately continues to happen in the face of its National Policy on Education and the Universal Basic Education Act which provides for inclusive and free education for all school children. PWDs suffer a lack of inclusion because most schools are not designed and managed in a manner that will be inclusive and accessible for them.[vii]

The challenges Nigeria suffer as a country cannot be discussed in isolation of the government’s responsibility and obligation to committing resources to education. Nigeria still spends below the recommended benchmark[viii] of between 15-20 percent of annual budgets on education.  In its 2022 budget, Nigeria increased its budgetary allocation for education to 7.2 percent from 5.7 percent in the previous year. While this is commendable, a lot still needs to be done by devoting more resources to educational infrastructure and generally funding education in Nigeria as a lot of schools lack infrastructure like; conducive classrooms, laboratories, libraries, toilets, electricity and  proper learning environment.[ix]


In order to address the educational challenges in Nigeria, the government must be committed to the following;

  1. Resolving the legal barrier that makes the right to education non-justiciable. The government should amend the constitution to make the right to education enforceable.
  2. In its response to armed conflicts and terrorism, the government should implement approaches that will ensure the protection of educational institutions and secure access to education for children in the internally displaced persons (IDP) camps and in post-conflict settlements and communities. Strategies aimed at securing education for all should form part of the government’s overall response to such conflicts and attacks.
  3. Agencies of the government like the National Orientation Agency (NOA) and the Ministry of Information and Culture needs to do more in addressing the socio-cultural nuances that exclude children from access to education in some parts of the country. Nation-wide campaigns that target remote parts of the country where these cultural practices may be entrenched will go a long way in ensuring that children are able to access education.
  4. Persons living with disabilities have a right to education. Therefore, in protecting their right, the government must develop inclusive policies, programs and infrastructure that will make education both accessible and inclusive for them.

In order to improve the quality of education and make it accessible for all, the government must commit adequate resources to education in the country. A good way to start will be by implementing the UNESCO recommendation on spending 15 -20 percent of national annual budget on education.

[i] last accessed 9March 2023

[ii] UNICEF last accessed 9 March 2023

[iii] last accessed 9 March 2023

[iv] Supra 2

[v] Mohammed S.S.I (2000). Female and Girl-child education in Nigerian. In Federal Republic of Nigeria (ed), Abuja: Federal Ministry of Education.

[vi] The National Human Rights Commission <> last accessed 9 March 2023

[vii] last accessed 9 March 2023

[viii] last accessed 9 March 2023

[ix] last accessed 9 March 2023

Cover Photo by Emmanuel Ikwuegbu on Unsplash

Girls Education after the Collapse of Kabul on 15th of August

During the peace talks in Doha in 2020, the Taliban emphasized the importance of education in several statements ‘because this is the basic right of all Afghans.’ They also wanted to ‘guarantee all human and legal rights of every child, woman, and man.’ In this, the Taliban presented themselves as a progressive force in favor of education for all citizens of Afghanistan, regardless of gender, even though in areas held under Taliban control, up until their recent resurgence, their record for girls’ education was poor and inconsistent.

Very few areas allowed girls past puberty to attend school; some prevented girls from gaining an education where the Taliban held influence over the curriculum and prioritized religious education at the expense of other subjects.

An estimated 3.7 million children are out of school in Afghanistan- 60% of them are girls. After the fall of Kabul and the reemergence of the Taliban and their dark ideology.

FILE PHOTO: Afghan women’s rights defenders and civil activists protest to call on the Taliban to preserve their achievements and education in front of the presidential palace in Kabul, Afghanistan, September 3, 2021. REUTERS/Stringer/File Photo

Today millions of Afghan girls are deprived of their fundamental rights. Women and girls were banned from schools and universities under Taliban rule between 1996 and 2001, and they are again forbidden from going to school in 2021.

According to the Taliban, “the education system is not Islamic enough, and schools should be segregated by gender, and Taliban will introduce a new dress code.”- Taliban has said.

Taliban have promised the people of Afghanistan; they will not prevent women from being educated or having jobs. But since the fall of Kabul, women cannot go out of their houses, and they are imprisoned in the four walls of their homes.

Taliban’s actions and words are not the same. For more than a month, Afghan girls have been banned from their fundamental right to “education,” and the world is not doing anything about this. Afghan women are paying the price of their fake promises, and they are being tortured mentally and physically.

Afghan women have been fighting for their rights in the last four decades, and they are fighters. They didn’t give up in the previous 40 years, and they will not give up today as well. We are not asking the world to give us western liberties. We are asking for solidarity in this fight against darkness.


Writer:A Civil Society Activist from Afghanistan.