More than 300,000 girls of school age have been enrolled in Katsina State schools under the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) intervention programme, according to Muntaka Mukhtar, Kano field Education Officer.

UNICEF executed the GEP3 in Katsina, Sokoto, Zamfara, Bauchi, Kano, and Niger states with the assistance of the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office (FCDO).

Mr Mukhtar, who made the announcement in Katsina during a three-day training on girls’ education with journalists, stated that the project has improved residents’ attitudes toward girls’ enrolment and completion of schooling through community campaigns, peer support for girls, and family negotiation.

“Foundational learning has also been boosted through the early learning, literacy and numeracy, approach with a focus on teaching a community,” he said.

Mr Mukhtar further stated that 180 Girls for Girls clubs were formed in 60 junior secondary schools throughout the state’s six participating local government regions.

Despite the success story, Mr Mukhtar stated that the state has a record number of out-of-school children (536,132).

He stated that the documented inequalities in equalizing school attendance between boys and girls, as well as shared gender stereotypes, continue to disadvantage females, resulting to a greater prevalence of school dropout.

According to him, the tendency drives parents to prioritize boys’ education above girls’ education. He claims it also promotes child marriage.

“Every day, girls face barriers to education caused by poverty, cultural norms, poor infrastructure, violence and fragility,” he said.

Ashiru Sani, the permanent member of the Katsina State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB), stated in his remarks that the state’s instability is hampering attempts to improve enrolment of out-of-school children.

According to Mr Sani, bandit assaults have resulted in either parents not taking their children to school or villages (including schools) being abandoned by locals.

“Insecurity, has no doubt, affected child enrollment in the state. In some communities, you see that schools have been vandalised by the bandits. What they do sometimes when they attack a school, they burn down buildings including schools. So, in some of those places, it’ll be difficult for children to go to burnt down schools.

“In some places, you’ll find that residents of communities have been forced to flee due to constant bandits’ attacks. When they leave their communities and find somewhere to live as refugees, they find it difficult to enrol their children into schools,” Mr Sani said.

He did, however, say that UNICEF and other development partners’ actions had generated some beneficial effects.

Mr Sani stated that UNICEF’s N20,000 stipend for every registered girl and teacher training are complementing the state government’s efforts to increase child enrollment in school.

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