By Asmau Ahmad
The World Bank has approved an additional $700 million for Nigeria to expand its Adolescent Girls Initiative for Learning and Empowerment (AGILE) programme in 18 states.
The global organisation announced this Thursday through a publication on its official website, noting that the additional financing will scale up project activities from the current seven states to 11 other states.
It added that the funding is meant to increase the targeted beneficiaries to include out-of-school girls, those who are married, and those who have disabilities.
According to the World Bank, Nigeria has over 12 to 15 million out-of-school children in the school-age group, with the majority of them concentrated in Northern Nigeria, where secondary school completion rates among girls are lower than in the southern region of the country.
“There are also high levels of violence around schools and an estimated one million children were affected by increased insecurity in 2020-2021, many of them may not have returned to school,” it noted.
The World Bank also noted that in the seven AGILE programme-implementing states, the number of girls in secondary schools has increased from about 900,000 to over 1.6 million.
The states are Borno, Ekiti, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, and Plateau.
Under the programme, it said over 5,000 classrooms have been renovated and over 250,000 eligible girls have received scholarships.
“The AGILE programme has supported the construction and rehabilitation of WASH facilities in secondary schools and the installation of computers and solar panels which make attending school more convenient and conducive for both girls and boys,” the World Bank noted on its website.
In addition to girls, the World Bank said over 15 million students and beneficiaries of the project will also include teachers, administrators, families, communities, and staff in existing and newly constructed schools.
“With the additional financing, the programme will be implemented in 18 states and will help Nigeria to achieve better education and health outcomes for girls,” it added.
Shubham Chaudhuri, the World Bank Country Director for Nigeria, was quoted to have said: “Closing the gender gaps in economic empowerment by ensuring girls have access to education and skills is key for Nigeria’s development and economic prosperity.”
“Nigeria’s working population will soon be one of the youngest and largest around the world, which means that investing in adolescent girls is imperative when addressing overall economic prospects and growth.”
Also, Aisha Garba, the Task Team Lead on AGILE said: “A larger number of vulnerable girls will be reached in 18 states providing digital skills, a more conducive learning environment and life skills, towards seeing over 8.6 million girls completing their secondary education.”
“States will also be supported to construct community secondary schools, employ more female teachers, use energy efficient measures, and be more inclusive of girls living with disabilities.”
AGILE Project is a World Bank-assisted project of the Federal Ministry of Education geared at improving secondary education opportunities for adolescent girls aged between 10 and 20.
According to the information on the website dedicated to the programme, the AGILE project is meant to improve secondary education opportunities in the implementing states to make education more appealing to adolescent girls, parents, communities, and institutions.
The current implementing states were selected through a consultative process involving the Federal Ministry of Education, Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget, and National Planning, State Governors, and State Ministries of Education.
The selection criteria among others, included the number of out-of-school girls, secondary school transition rates, the existence of enabling policies on Girls’ education as well as the States’ engagement and commitment to improving Girls’ educational attainment and empowerment.