How many out-of-school children does Nigeria really have? Are they 13.2million? An investigation by a Nigerian news platform has debunked the figure as incorrect and misleading.
The incorrect figure was given by the Executive Secretary, Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), Ahmed Boboyi at a presentation made on his behalf by Bello Kaigara, the Director of Social Mobilisation of the agency on 4 October, at the Northern Nigerian Traditional Rulers Conference on Out-of-School Children held in Abuja.
According to the widely circulated report, Boboyi hinged the figure on the yet to be published Nigeria Demographic Health Survey (NDHS), which, he claimed, was conducted in 2015 by the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) and the Nigerian government.
He claimed that Nigeria out-of-school population has risen from 10.5 million to 13.2 million, according to the survey.
However, fact-checking by icirnigeria.org showed that the figure was false and that there was no NDHS conducted by UNICEF in 2015.
Geoffrey Njoku, a Communication Specialist with UNICEF Nigeria, said there is nothing like ‘NDHS 2015’. He said the organisation never conducted any survey of such, icirnigeria.org, reported.
“The last report on NDHS was that of 2013 and the next edition of the report should be published this year”, Njoku said.
The NDHS is a national sample survey that provides up-to-date information on demographic characteristics of the respondents and conducted at an interval of five years.
According to the last report, UNICEF was not actively involved in compiling the report. The role UNICEF played was only to provide technical support on height and weight measurement of women and children.
Doune Porter, former Chief of Communications, UNICEF Nigeria, told Africa Check that the figure of 10.5 million came from UNESCO’s Institute for Statistics database, using data from 2010. The Institute for Statistics is the official data agency of the United Nation’s Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), providing internationally-comparable data on education.
UNESCO said the 2010 figure on enrolment statistics originated from Nigeria’s education ministry. The age distribution was then estimated using data from a 2011 survey by the National Bureau of Statistics.
However, in 2014, the data agency revised the 2010 out-of-school figure for Nigeria from 10.5 million to 8.7 million. This was because the UN population division had produced new population estimates for that year.
Dr Yemi Kale, director-general of the National Bureau of Statistics said the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS5), 2016/2017 conducted by the NBS and UNICEF was published in early 2018.
The survey shows that a total of 9.1 million children are out-of-school in Nigeria, a figure which is even higher than the figure quoted in the UIS 2016 report. In the NBS survey report, the out-of-school children are defined as the number of out-of-school children of primary school age who are not attending school and those attending preschool.
This differs from the UN definition which excludes the children attending preschool. By reviewing the figures to reflect the UN definition, this means that 7.2 million children of primary school age are out-of-school in Nigeria. Even though the figure is smaller than the UIS official report, it is higher than all other countries in the world.