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Why gender parity is a low standard for success in education

Stephanie Psaki's picture
Gender parity in educational attainment may mask other important inequalities. (Photo: Vuong Hai Hoang / World Bank)


In many ways, girls’ education is a success story in global development. Relatively simple changes in national policies – like making primary schooling free and compulsory – have led to dramatic increases in school enrollment around the world. In Uganda, for example, enrollment increased by over 60 percent following the elimination of primary school fees.  

As more young people have enrolled in school, gaps in educational attainment between boys and girls have closed. According to UNESCO, by 2014, “gender parity (meaning an equal amount of men and women) was achieved globally, on average, in primary, lower secondary, and upper secondary education.”

Yet, more than 250 million children are not in school. Many more drop out before completing primary school. And many young people who attend school do not gain basic literacy skills. These challenges remain particularly acute for poor girls.

In a new paper, published in Population and Development Review, we explore recent progress in girls’ education in 43 low- and middle-income countries. To do so, we use Demographic and Health Survey data collected at two time points, the first between 1997 and 2007 (time 1), and the second between 2008 and 2016 (time 2).

The principal makes the difference

Jaime Saavedra's picture
Also available in: Español
Principals have to deal with hundreds of students and their personal and academic challenges. (Photo: Sarah Farhat​ / World Bank)


All schools are different. I’m not referring to the building, the number of students or teaching practices. I’m talking about the school’s spirit. When you walk into a good school, the building is often well-organized and clean. The students look busy and happy. You don’t see strict discipline; ideally, you see organized chaos.

When you see a well-functioning school, most likely, there is a good principal behind it. A leader who sets a vision for the school and sets clear objectives. Someone who creates the space that fosters teachers’ professional and personal development, and encourages students’ personal growth, creativity, and their own journey of discovery.

Running a school efficiently is a very difficult challenge. A principal must be a pedagogical leader to dozens of teachers: observing them in the classroom, evaluating institutional performance, and helping them get the professional development opportunities they need. Principals have to deal with hundreds of students and their personal and academic challenges. They need to respond to parents, each with their own expectations for the school. And principals also need to contend with the administrative and financial burdens imposed by the bureaucracy.  

El director hace la diferencia

Jaime Saavedra's picture
Also available in: English
Los directores tienen que lidiar con los desafíos personales y académicos de cientos de estudiantes. (Foto: Sarah Farhat / Banco Mundial)​


Todas las escuelas son distintas. No hablo del edificio, del número de estudiantes, ni del enfoque pedagógico que siguen. Hablo del espíritu de la escuela. Al entrar a un buen colegio, uno a veces ve que todo está bien organizado y limpio. Los estudiantes se ven ocupados, y al mismo tiempo, felices. No necesariamente se observa disciplina estricta, idealmente, uno ve un caos organizado.

Cuando una escuela funciona bien, en gran medida se debe a que existe un buen director. El buen director establece una visión y objetivos para la escuela, y puede hacer de ella un espacio efectivo de desarrollo profesional y personal para los maestros, y un espacio de crecimiento, creatividad y descubrimiento para los alumnos.

Lograr que una escuela funcione bien es una tarea extremadamente compleja. Requiere que el director se constituya en un líder pedagógico de decenas de profesores, observándolos en el aula, monitoreando permanentemente su desempeño con sus alumnos y en su contribución al trabajo institucional. Así podrá el director desplegar las capacidades de su cuerpo docente de manera efectiva y darles apoyo en lo que necesiten. Requiere lidiar con cientos de estudiantes y sus retos personales y académicos; y con los padres de familia de esos estudiantes, que tienen sus propias expectativas sobre la escuela. Además, debe lidiar con los retos burocráticos, administrativos y financieros para hacer funcionar la institución. 

International Women’s Day 2017: Empowering girls and women through education

Oni Lusk-Stover's picture
An analysis of women aged 25 to 34 underlines the relevance of the International Women’s Day 2017 theme, #BeBoldForChange. (Photo: John Isaac / World Bank)
 


Parents love their children.
Farming is hard work.
The child is reading a book.
Children work hard at school.

These are the sentences that women ages 25-34— who reported their highest level of education as being primary school or less — were asked to read as part of the Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) Woman’s Questionnaire.

The next generation of African scientists need a more sustainable career path

Rama George-Alleyne's picture
A professor teaching cell biology and biochemistry at a university in Africa. (Stephan Gladieu / World Bank)

Happy UN Day for South –South Cooperation!
 
Investment in skills is vital to economic growth and competitiveness and poverty reduction. I believe that there is no better way to do that than to educate young graduates with expertise in high-demand areas to help grow African economies, create jobs, and support research.

School nutrition programs are the first line of defense against diabetes

Linda Brooke Schultz's picture
Children having meals in school in Ghana. Photo: © Arne Hoel/The World Bank



April 7th is World Health Day, a day to highlight emerging global health concerns. The focus this year is raising awareness on the diabetes epidemic, and its dramatic increase in low- and middle-income countries.

A Happier Story about Education in Nigeria

Elizabeth King's picture


A few weeks ago news broke about another horrendous attack in schools in Nigeria. More than 200 teenage girls were abducted from a school in the remote north-east of the country. In November last year more than 40 schools were burned and destroyed in an attack that also killed around 30 teachers. Those attacks belie strong national support for education and its strong link to the country’s economic growth and poverty reduction. This support was expressed compellingly by students, employers and national leaders at the Nigerian Economic Summit in Abuja in March. The message was that transforming education will determine Nigeria’s place in Africa and in the world.

Report from Nigeria: Education Needs Intelligent Champions

Elizabeth King's picture


The hall was full all the way to the back and up to the balcony.  The audience was lively, contributing loud asides in their seats, applauding often, cracking inside jokes, and even occasionally arguing directly with those on stage.  You’d think I was at a political rally, but it was the 20th Nigerian Economic Summit in Abuja last month; the theme of the three-day summit was ”transforming education through partnerships for global competitiveness.”

A Global Conversation: What Will It Take to Achieve Learning for All?

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Tomorrow, a Learning for All Ministerial Meeting will bring together development partners and ministers of finance and education from Bangladesh, the DRC, Ethiopia, Haiti, India, Nigeria, Yemen, and South Sudan – home to nearly half of the world’s out-of-school-children – to address challenges and steps to ensure that all children go to school and learn.

Educating 1+ Billion Girls Will Make the Difference for Women’s Equality

Elizabeth King's picture

The following piece is cross-posted at USAID's IMPACTblog, where World Bank Education Director Elizabeth King is a special guest blogger for International Women's Day.

This week we celebrate International Women’s Day and it’s as good a time as any to remind ourselves of the remarkable accomplishments toward achieving gender equality—and of the challenges that remain to ensuring that the 3.4 billion girls and women on our planet have the same chances as boys and men to lead healthy and satisfying lives.

This year’s International Women’s Day theme, “equal access to education, training, and science and technology,” is a powerful affirmation of the many benefits of educating girls, which come from improving women’s well-being, such as through better maternal health and greater economic empowerment.