ABUJA, Nigeria –Education for women in Nigeria has been a challenging issue. Men in Nigeria plan out the lives of women. Olivia Iloetonma, a Nigerian college graduate, stated, “Nobody cares what the girl child wants. This is a society in which women are valued only in positions when they can be controlled.” In terms of schooling, men decide which career path is best, regardless of the woman’s interests. Iloetonma, for example, was on track for law school, even though her interests lay elsewhere. Many even think of school as an unnecessary nuisance. The World Bank’s AGILE project in Nigeria is working to change that.
Nothing illustrates the extreme views of some Nigerian people like the kidnappings of 276 girls from a secondary school in 2014. Boko Haram, the militant Islamist group, took the girls. They did so to show their hate for the ideal of women receiving advanced education. The group’s name translates to “Western education is forbidden.” They believe that progress that strays from tradition should not be allowed.
The Agile Project in Nigeria
Despite the fear of attack, Nigeria has made positive steps to benefit women. This is in large part due to the help of international entities. In July 2020, the IDA credited the World Bank’s Adolescent Girls Initiative for Learning and Environment Project (AGILE) $500 billion to increase women’s secondary education. The additional funds provide a bigger balance between the availability of primary and secondary schools in the nation. Currently, there are about 10 primary schools running per secondary school. The project claims that more than 70% of the women population will not make it past their third year of secondary school, let alone graduate high school or move onto college.
The AGILE project in Nigeria expects to help about six million boys and girls with the money. The credit will fund more than 5,500 new junior secondary schools and 3,300 new senior secondary school classrooms. As a result, more than 340,000 women will be educated on a host of issues, ranging from climate change to “safety and gender violence awareness.” It will provide 500,000 of the lowest-income women full scholarships to go to school. This will empower them to further advocate for a change in social norms.
The secondary effects of the World Bank’s credit are also noteworthy. Shubham Chaudhuri, the World Bank Country Director, explains that the investment will result in a more diversified educated population. Consequently, economic productivity will increase as the country will have more highly skilled workers for better-paying jobs.
With the positive effects of a more educated population, there will be more women like Iloetonma. Women will use their educational background to continue to improve the conditions for the girls who were just like them growing up. Iloetonma started her own business within Nigeria and then branched into an investment firm that supported up and coming companies within Africa. From there, she has made contributions to women’s education, hoping that women will be able to define their path in the future completely.
– Aiden Farr